North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Finding of Contributory Negligence in Moped Fatality Case

Scooters and mopeds are a popular choice with some people when it comes to a mode of transportation. Students on college campuses or people living in bustling metropolitan areas are especially fond of opting for these two-wheeled vehicles. They are affordable, easy to park, and provide a way to get to and from class. But they also bring serious dangers especially considering that they fail to protect the rider from the elements and other dangers. If you were involved in a moped or scooter crash, contact our diligent team of Asheville personal injury lawyers today to learn more about your potential rights.

Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered a case arising from a moped accident in which one party tragically died. The administrator of the decedent’s estate filed a claim alleging that the defendant was responsible for the decedent’s death and that she had the last clear chance to avoid the accident. The decedent was leaving his job at a bicycle shop on his moped before the crash. The headlight on his moped had been broken in a previous accident and he attached a bicycle light in its place. A witness testified that she was traveling on North Carolina Highway 115 and saw a “very, very faint little light” on the road ahead. She believed the light belonged to a pedestrian. She passed the light and saw nothing because it was dark that evening.

The next day, she learned from TV reports that a moped driver had been killed at that exact location. A witness came forth stating that he was also traveling by motor vehicle at the same location and saw something go by his vehicle as he prepared to make a turn. He did not see any lights on the moped and thought it was perhaps a motorcycle. According to the complaint, the defendant was a third motorist in the area at the time of the crash who executed a left-hand turn onto the highway at which time the moped collided with the defendant’s car. He testified that he had not seen the moped and had no idea that it was in the general vicinity of his vehicle.

At the close of trial, the jury returned a verdict finding that the defendant was negligent in executing the turn without ensuring the way was clear but also concluded that the decedent was contributorily negligent. The plaintiff appealed. The plaintiff argued, among other things, that the lower court should have instructed the jury on the doctrine of last clear chance, which requires a party to prove a number of elements including that the other party failed to use reasonably available time to avoid an accident. The appellate court reviewed the record and concluded that enough evidence supported providing the jury with an instruction on this doctrine to determine whether the defendant had the last clear chance. it vacated the lower court ruling and remanded the case for new proceedings.

If you or someone you love was injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Understanding your rights and figuring to the best way to proceed with legal action can be overwhelming, especially if your injuries are severe and painful. At Maurer Law, we provide compassionate and responsive legal advice to individuals throughout North Carolina. Call today at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to get started.

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