In a twist, a North Carolina court set a new precedent for two counties by charging a passenger in a car for the effects of a tragic accident. The accident resulted in the serious injury of a young girl and her pregnant mother, as well as the death of the driver of a second car. In early May, the passenger was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
In Oct. 2012, a 27-year-old woman was driving on a North Carolina road. Her 27-year-old boyfriend and another friend were traveling in a sedan. According to witnesses and police reports, the female driver and her boyfriend were arguing when he grabbed the steering wheel, causing the car to swerve off the road before striking a sports utility vehicle head on.
The SUV, containing a pregnant driver and her two young children, came to a rest in a ditch. One of the children suffered serious injuries to her intestines which required emergency surgery. The safety of the unborn child was also a concern due to severe bruising on the mother’s stomach. The driver of the sedan was killed. In May, the boyfriend pleaded guilty to charges ranging from murder to driving without a license.
Although the man did admit his guilt and received a jail sentence, this will do little to help the family of the little girl as they cope with the financial consequences of her serious injury. Additionally, the family of a deceased woman, which includes her 10-year-old son, will have to deal with the expenses of a costly funeral as well as the costs of raising the young boy without his mother. Both families could consider pursuing a civil lawsuit in North Carolina that could provide compensation for the unexpected expenses incurred as a result of an accident that was no fault of their own.
Source: Star News, “Man sentenced to at least 12 years in fatal crash,” Fran Norton, May 1, 2013