Life-threatening dangers to North Carolina motorcycle riders come in many forms, as illustrated by a fatal wreck in Selma, NC, on April 24, 2015. The deadly crash on NC 42 near the intersection with Thanksgiving Fire Road when a contract worker doing roadside mowing for the state transportation department pulled out in front of the motorcyclist.
According to WCNC, the industrial mower entered the travel lane from the shoulder unexpectedly, and the motorcycle rider could not slow or move over in time to avoid a collision with the mowing rig that cut him off. Police have charged the mower operator with moving unsafely and causing a death while operating a motor vehicle.
As tragic as this loss must be for the family members of the biker who died, they may only be facing the beginning of a very long, emotionally draining struggle in holding any person or organization accountable. While the cause of the fatal wreck does not appear to be in doubt, it is not clear whether the mower operator, his employer, the prime NCDOT contractor that awarded the mowing work to the operators' company or the state agency itself bears ultimate liability for making compensation and settling insurance claims.
My Carolina wrongful death law firm colleagues and I can imagine only too well how each party will attempt to assign liability to one of the other parties. NCDOT will hide behind the language of its contracts and, possibly, sovereign immunity. The companies will each blame the mower operator, and the insurer for the at-fault commercial driver will point back to one or both corporations. Dealing with the inevitable red tape, claims denials, and lowball settlement offers may leave the motorcycle rider's loved ones feeling victimized many times over.
When their grief and shock has subsided, the deceased victim's survivors should consider consulting with a plaintiff's lawyer who can offer advice on their legal options and provide guidance on both protecting their rights and dealing with insurance companies.