What Contributed to a Child’s Death in a Charlotte Crash? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Local police have charged a 22-year-old woman with causing a deadly four-vehicle wreck in Charlotte, North Carolina (NC). The crash on Eastway Drive near the intersection with North Tyron Street took the life of a 4-year-old boy and his mother. It also sent three people to the hospital with unspecified injuries.



Emergency responders were called to the scene a little before 8 am on May 11, 2018. Investigators determined that the at-fault driver sideswiped a pickup while attempting to change lanes and then struck the car occupied by the mother and son. A van that got caught up in the chain reaction ran off the road and flipped over.

The young child initially survived the collision but was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the Carolinas Medical Center. His mother died at the scene, and two of the other survivors were described as suffering serious injuries.

The at-fault driver currently faces two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, driving with an expired registration and one count of unsafe movement. Bringing the vehicular homicide charge requires collecting evidence that the accused driver was operating in a negligent fashion, such as changing lanes without using a turn signal or without checking blind spots.

News reports point out that the 4-year-old passenger who lost his life was not properly secured in a child safety seat. While North Carolina does require booster seats for children that age, the applicable statute explicitly states that failing to comply with this law “shall not be evidence of negligence or contributory negligence.”

That matters greatly for the grieving family of the mother and son who died after getting hit on Eastway Drive in Charlotte. A finding of contributory negligence would bar filing and collecting on wrongful death claims. Since the at-fault driver’s insurance company or defense lawyers cannot automatically reject claims, the family has the opportunity to exercise their rights hold the woman who made the unsafe lane change financially accountable.

As experienced Carolina wrongful death attorneys, however, my colleagues and I suspect that arguments will be made that the victims contributed to causing their own fatal injuries. Effective ways to defuse that line of argumentation exist. And, certainly, the young boy would have played no role in controlling the car in which he was riding or deciding whether to be buckled in.