On Jan. 17, two North Carolina teenagers were killed in a single-car accident in Gates County, NC, according to Wavy TV-10.

Alexandria Drake, 35, the driver and also one of the teens’ mother, was driving the teens when she allegedly drove into a ditch, a fence and then a tree, causing the vehicle to overturn a number of times. Both teen passengers died at the scene from injuries suffered.  Drake was airlifted to a hospital for treatment. The severity of her condition is unknown.  

While the investigation is still underway, police have determined that speed was a factor in the accident.  Whether or not alcohol played a role in the crash is still in question.  Only one of the teens was wearing a seat belt. 

Our hearts go out to the victims of this accident and their families and friends.  It is always difficult to deal with the loss of loved ones, especially when the victims are so young. This tragedy is a reminder to us all to practice safe driving, not only for our sake, but for the sake of our fellow drivers on the road. Speed plays a factor in many serious car accidents and this case is no exception.

Car insurance laws in most states including North Carolina (NC) and Virginia (VA) permit injured passengers in a car to make a personal injury claim against the driver of their “host” car–even if that allegedly careless driver is a relative, parent, spouse, or close friend.  While it is something one never wants to consider, in the case of a death of a passenger, the person’s “estate” has the right to recover insurance benefits on behalf of the “estate” and the lawful beneficiaries under a will or the state laws applying when there is no will.  Here the teenager’s “estates” will each have a wrongful death claim if the driver was negligent in causing the tragic crash.  Any insurance coverage in favor of the car host driver may be required to provide the coverage.  Our law firm has been involved in many unfortunate injury cases where the source of repayment of medical expenses or other grievous losses was to make a claim against a spouse, relative or friend under the state insurance laws.   The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2008 over 37,000 people died in a motor vehicle accident.  The NHTSA also reports that during the first quarter of 2009, from January to March, 7,689 people lost their lives due to car accidents.   

While we cannot prevent all car accidents, there are certain measures we can take to try to reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents that occur.  

Always wear your seat belt and encourage your passengers to buckle up. The American College of Emergency Physicians reports startling statistics concerning the lack of seat belt usage.  According to the ACEP, one person dies every hour in America due to not wearing a seat belt.  Further, seventy-five percent of people ejected from their cars during a crash are killed.  The ACEP states that, when used properly, “seat belts are the most effective means of reducing deaths and serious injuries in traffic crashes.”