On Thursday morning around 9:50 a.m., a motorcycle driven by Bruce Offenbacher, age 24, rocketed down NC Highway 10 at over 100 mph. On the back of the motorcycle was Offenbacher's 20 year old girlfriend, Jasmine Shope of Newton.
As the motorcycle approached the intersection of Bethany Church Road, Isaiah Edgell, 44, was stopped in his 1989 Mazda pickup truck facing west on NC Highway 10, waiting to make a left hand turn into the Country Market. Iredell County Trooper C.M. Trouille just happened to be sitting in his marked State Highway Patrol vehicle behind the stopped pickup truck. When the pickup truck began to make its left hand turn, the motorcycle collided with the passenger side of the pickup truck at a high speed and with substantial force. Trooper Truoille stated he never even saw the motorcycle before impact. This crash was originally covered by the Hickory Daily Record. The following video is a good example of how this crash happened:
Both the driver and passenger of the motorcycle were thrown from the bike. Trooper Trouille said that the passenger landed 154 feet away, and the driver landed 97 feet away. The passengers in the pickup truck received minor injuries in the crash. Mr. Edgell refused treatment at the scene.
At 100 mph, a vehicle travels approximately 150 feet per second. At speeds like this, it is difficult for other drivers to judge how quickly such a vehicle is approaching. This author does not know whether Mr. Edgell saw the motorcycle before starting his left hand turn.
Both Shope and Offenbacher were flown by helicopter to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Ms. Shope is still in the Intensive Care Unit. A family member indicated that she is in critical but stable condition. Mr. Offenbacher is not in ICU but has multiple fractures.
Given Offenbacher's gross negligence, he would be liable to Ms. Shope for both compensatory damages (medical bills, lost wages, permanent injury, and pain and suffering) as well as for punitive damages. Punitive damages are occasionally awarded in cases where the defendant's conduct shows a reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others. The rationale for awarding punitive damages is that such damages will not only punish the wrongdoer but also deter him from committing similar wrongful acts in the future, as well as potentially deter others from doing similar bad acts.
Ms. Shope's family should carefully document her injuries by taking photographs and videos as she begins her recovery. These photographs will be helpful in dealing with the insurance companies. Photographs should also be taken at the scene, documenting all tire impressions and gouge marks on the road, as well as noting the point of impact and the point of rest of all of the vehicles involved. Statements should be taken from all witnesses as well as the investigating officers. As I have discussed in previous posts, adequate insurance coverage will likely be an issue in Ms. Shope's case.
Ms. Shope should also be very careful not to speak to anyone from any insurance company, even her own, because her claim is ripe for an insurance company to deny liability based on contributory negligence. Contributory negligence is when a victim is accused of doing something careless or unreasonable that contributed to the cause of the crash or injury. Insurance companies love to deny claims in North Carolina based on contributory negligence because it is a complete defense in a personal injury claim. In other words, if someone is injured by someone else's negligence, but the injured person was 1% at fault (for example if Ms. Shope had told Offenbacher to drive real fast just before the crash), then the injured person can not make any recovery against the at fault person. Many court cases are disputes about whether or not the injured person was contributorily negligent.
At Davis Law Group, we help people who have suffered serious injuries as the result of the negligent and reckless conduct of others. We know what needs to be done, and we know how to do it well. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured and you would like to have an experienced accident attorney answer your questions, call Asheville Accident Attorney Brian Davis. There is no obligation and the consultation is free.