A fatal pedestrian accident in Greeville, North Carolina (NC), raises questions about whether and how a hit-and-run driver can be held liable for causing a wreck that leaves the victim seriously injured or dead. The wreck occurred on Belvoir Highway during the evening of November 12, 2014.
According to news reports, the crash happened while a woman was attempting to cross the road in a residential section of Pitt County. The at-fault driver may have been speeding at the time of the collision, and he did not stop after hitting the victim. He later turned himself into at a State Highway Patrol station, and troopers informed television station WITN that the man would be charged only with failing to stop after being involved in a traffic accident.
While this might appear to absolve the driver from being held liable for making compensation to the family of the deceased woman through his automobile insurance policy, North Carolina law provides a way the victim's survivors can hold the hit-and-run driver financially accountable. They could consider seeking punitive damages against the hit-and-run driver.
Punitive damages get awarded to accident vcitims or their survivors in addition to and separate from any direct compensation due for medical treatments, lost wages and pain and suffering. Collecting punitive damages generally requires showing gross negligence or extreme recklessness on the part of the person who caused the injury or death. Fleeing the scene of a traffic accident that left a person dead can be ground for establishing either of those extenuating circumstances.
Regardless of how the legal issues resulting from the deadly Greenville wreck get resolved, my Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our condolences out to the deceased woman's friends and family members.