On a wet June night in February of 2005 a speeding pick-up truck lost control on I-85 near Bessemer City, NC, flew off the road, and hurtled down an embankment. In the process it hit a tree and a young man in the passenger seat was ejected through the windshield and died in the ambulance on the way to hospital. The passenger was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

Need more Traction

The accident, which is typical of many that are similar, raises many issues with regard to liability. In this case the surviving heirs of the passenger brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver of the truck for rash and negligent driving. It was a single-car accident and the truck was reported to be traveling at 85 mph. Visibility was extremely poor because of a heavy downpour at the time. The fault, according to the police, was that of the driver for driving the vehicle in rainy conditions and poor visibility, at an unsafe speed. The complaint included negligent maintenance since the tire tread on the truck was less than the recommended depth and hence unsafe.

No Seatbelt

The surviving heirs could also have brought a case against the State of North Carolina for negligent maintenance of the road in the absence of a guardrail, but such a claim would have been unlikely to be upheld because of the circumstances. No one made this man not wear a seat belt, speed, and take this type of risk.

Strong Argument

Failure to wear a seat belt was cited by the driver’s insurance company in its defense. Had the passenger worn a seat belt, the company argued, the man might not have been ejected and might still be alive.

The wrongful death action was upheld by the court which did award significant damages to the heirs for the loss of society, love, companionship, and support by the victim. Well, he was not wearing a seat belt but perhaps he the family deserved something. If he was wearing a seat belt and was still seriously injured or killed, then the driver’s insurance company would not have too much to protect themselves with or use in their defense.

Someone Who Knows the Law

In an accident case there is often more than one party that can be or is held liable. If you are a victim of an accident, and have sustained injury, speak to a skilled and committedaccident attorney about your entitlement to compensation.