That decision was part of a plea bargain with prosecutors in the Commonwealth, who had charged the trucker with motor vehicle homicide. That charge was dropped in exchange for the trucker’s guilty plea to a charge of negligent driving. The judge in the case also suspended the trucker’s driver’s license for three years, retroactive to the date of the May 2015 crash.
The pedestrian-truck accident claimed the life of a 24-year-old woman and seriously injured a 25-year-old man who was with her. According to the Worcester Telegram, the crash happened shortly before 9:30 p.m. as the trucker pulled his 18-wheeler to the side of the road in order to allow a fire truck that was behind him to pass. However, he then started to move forward to enter a roundabout. But as he did so, the trailer of his vehicle struck a stop sign and a light pole. When that pole fell over, the young woman standing nearby on the sidewalk was knocked over as well and was caught in the truck’s wheels.
The victim’s friend, who had been standing beside her, was also injured when his feet were crushed. Both were transported to a local hospital, where the woman was pronounced dead.
The trucker is a North Carolina resident who was working for a Connecticut-based trucking company at the time of the collision. He later told investigators he was lost while trying to make a delivery and was attempting to find his way back to the interstate. The trucking company that hired him for that job later terminated him as a result of the truck accident.
In exchange for his guilty plea, he will serve five years on probation and perform 100 hours of community service, which will include speaking to young people in North Carolina about the importance of driver safety.
The defendant told the court he felt “terrible” about what had happened and wishes every day he could do things differently. The sentence of probation – as opposed to jail time – likely has to do with the fact there was no allegation of alcohol or drug use and no indication the driver was speeding or distracted. Also, the victim’s family did not feel jail time was appropriate either. Simply, he was careless. He was negligent.
That doesn’t bring back a vibrant young woman or restore the young man to his previous physical condition, though.
However, this admission of negligence in criminal court can likely be used to seek damages in any pending civil case for wrongful death or personal injury brought by the decedent’s family or the surviving victim. Such claims could be filed against the trucker personally, although the more viable claim would likely be against the trucking company that employed him. If he was indeed an employee (as opposed to an independent contractor), the plaintiffs could claim vicarious liability without having to prove the company itself was negligent. Furthermore, whichever entity owned the truck could also be deemed vicariously liable because the law recognizes all motor vehicles as dangerous instrumentalities, and owners can be liable for any damages they cause – regardless of who is operating them.
Contact the Carolina pedestrian accident lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Trucker gets probation in Kelley Square pedestrian death, March 22, 2017, By Gary V. Murray, Telegram & Gazette
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