Fourteen innocent people, the youngest of whom is 2 years old, were hospitalized following a head-on collision in Cumberland County, North Carolina (NC). State Highway Patrol troopers determined that a 17-year-old without a driver’s license caused the crash.
A preliminary investigation revealed that the teen driver ran a red light on Camden Road where it intersects with Rockfish Road outside of the town of Hope Mills. That error led to the collision with an SUV carrying eight people. While none of the victims’ injuries were considered life-threatening, everyone from both vehicles was transported to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center for treatment.
The at-fault driver currently faces charges for driving without a license and committing a red light violation. The second alleged offense was cited under section 20-158(b)(2) of the North Carolina General Statutes, which reads, “When a traffic signal is emitting a steady red circular light controlling traffic approaching an intersection, an approaching vehicle facing the red light shall come to a stop and shall not enter the intersection.”
Crashes like this one in Cumberland County are shockingly common. Also, too often, such collisions leave victims dead or badly injured. During 2016, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles compiled the following statistics:
- 7,107 crashes happened when a driver disregarded a traffic signal, 30 fatal of which proved fatal and 3,560 of which caused injuries serious enough to require hospital treatment.
- 3,901 crashes happened when a driver disregard a stop sign, 37 of which proved fatal and 1,885 of which caused serious injuries.
- 75,151 crashes happened because a driver failed to reduce speed, 100 of which proved fatal and 23,685 of which caused serious injuries.
Teen drivers are particularly prone to speeding and ignoring or failing to obey stop signals, mostly because they lack experience behind the wheel. A teen who has not yet qualified for her driver’s license would be at even greater risk for making such errors.
A major complication from this crash on Camden Road in Hope Mills could be that since the at-fault driver has no license, she also lacks auto insurance. My Carolina personal injury colleagues note elsewhere on our website that this will not necessarily leave the people who got hospitalized paying their own medical bills.
We explain that every licensed driver in North Carolina is required to carry uninsured motorist coverage, This coverage helps applies when
- No bodily injury liability insurance exists in at least the amount required by law, $30,000 per person / $60,000 per accident;
- There is no property damage liability insurance in at least the amount of $25,000; and/or
- The vehicle causing your accident, and/or its operator or owner, cannot be identified, i.e. a hit and run accident.
On that page, we also discuss underinsured motorist coverage. Since so many people suffered injuries in this head-on collision, pretty much no at-fault driver’s insurance policy would provide compensation and damages to every victim. Invoking either uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage involves filing claims against one’s own insurance policy. Working with a dedicated Carolina personal injury lawyer will help overcome the resistance the insurer may put up to paying off on claims arising from the negligence or recklessness of someone it never insured.