Accidents involving large tractor-trailers are among the most serious auto accidents due to the size and weight of modern trucks. According to a recent news article from WRAL, prosecutors have charged a truck driver with misdemeanor death by vehicle.
Authorities say alleged at-fault driver was traveling in his truck eastbound on U.S. Highway 158 in North Carolina around 10 a.m. when he ran a red light and hit a vehicle traveling southbound. Troopers further say, after crashing into the car, the truck collided with a second vehicle, which was traveling in a northbound direction. The truck hit the car and pushed it quite some distance down the road before it finally came to a stop entirely on top of the car, crushing it.
The only two occupants of the second car were a mother and daughter who were killed in the tragic North Carolina truck accident. The driver of the first vehicle the truck allegedly collided with was injured in the crash, but his injuries are not believed to be serious in nature. The driver of the truck was released on a $10,000 secured bond.
As our Charlotte car accident lawyers can explain, while we normally see criminal charges involving a deadly car accident as felonies, in this case prosecutors charged defendant with a misdemeanor count of death by vehicle. The difference between a felony and misdemeanor depends on the maximum sentence provided for in the North Carolina criminal statutes. An offense carrying less than a year in jail is generally considered a misdemeanor, whereas an offense carrying a maximum penalty of more than one year is generally considered a felony.
The reason this charge is a misdemeanor is because there was no allegation driver had been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the alleged criminal act. It is also important to note, driver has only been accused of a crime and is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In the context of a civil car accident lawsuit, it may not matter whether a defendant was also charged with a felony or whether he or she was charged with a misdemeanor, but the mere fact he or she was charged with a crime in connection with accident may have a significant impact on a civil claim against driver.
If a driver has also been charged with a crime, it may make at-fault driver’s insurance company more likely to quickly accept liability on behalf of their insured driver and make a reasonable settlement offer.
In addition to the effect it may have on an insurance company, the prosecutor will also likely want you to be a witness in the criminal case. While the prosecutor desires defendant to be plead guilty or be convicted after a trial, as that is his or her job, their interest in you prevailing in a civil lawsuit is not necessarily at the forefront of his or her mind, and your participation in the trial may affect a later civil trial. While you must comply with a request to be a witness, you want to make sure you speak with your own car accident attorney before you answer any questions.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Trucker charged after mother, daughter killed in Oxford crash, May 20, 2015, WRAL
More Blog Entries:
Harb v. City of Bakersfield – Alleged Improper Police Response to Crash Warrants New Trial, Feb. 18, 2015, Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer Blog