A wrong-way, impaired and unlicensed driver sent three innocent people to the hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (NC), on the night of June 15, 2017. The head-on collision happened at around 10:40 pm near the Akron Drive ramps to and from U.S. 52.
Police told reporters that the at-fault driver was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of U.S. 52 at a high rate of speed when he crashed into a Toyota. The driver and front seat passenger in the Toyota sustained life-threatening injuries, while the backseat passenger was admitted to the hospital in serious condition.
After receiving treatment for his own injuries, the at-fault driver was charged with driving while impaired, traveling the wrong way on the highway, careless and reckless driving, driving without a license and multiple counts of causing serious injuries while operating a vehicle. North Carolina statutes define driving while impaired as taking the wheel
- While under the influence of an impairing substance; or
- After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person's alcohol concentration; or
- With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance
Marijuana, heroin, LSD and PCP are the most commonly identified Schedule I drugs found in blood and urine tests performed on impaired drivers.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs -- and often both at the same time -- is a leading cause of wrong-way driving. Then, wrong-way crashes are a major cause of disabling injuries and deaths. This head-on collision in Winston-Salem raises additional concerns because the at-fault driver has no license and almost definitely does not carry automobile insurance. Holding him financially accountable for paying his victims’ medical bills might seem impossible.
North Carolina, however, is among the states that requires drivers who do pay for insurance to also carry uninsured (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. A consumer guide published by the state’s Department of Insurance explains these coverages this way:
Uninsured Motorists (UM) Coverage will provide protection when an uninsured driver, who is at-fault, injures you or another covered individual. It also provides property damage coverage. Underinsured Motorists (UIM) Coverage will provide protection when an underinsured driver, who is at-fault, causes injury to a covered individual. An underinsured driver is one whose limits of liability are less than your UIM limits, and not enough to cover the losses of the people the underinsured driver injures in an at-fault accident.
Invoking UM/UIM coverage can sometimes be even more complicated than filing claims against an at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Working with a dedicated and knowledgeable Carolina personal injury lawyer will help the victims clear hurdles and receive the compensation and damage payments they need to recover from this head-on collision.