North Carolina Court of Appeals Considers Fatal Scooter Accident Case Involving a Police Officer

While any type of motor vehicle accident is a tragedy, scooter accidents can lead to particularly dangerous outcomes because the scooter rider is so exposed to the elements. Scooters can also be harder to see than regular passenger vehicles, making it more likely that a car may hit one. If you were injured while riding your scooter or moped, then you may be eligible for financial recovery from the person who is responsible for causing the accident. The Raleigh car accident lawyers at Maurer Law have handled a wide variety of car accident cases and are prepared to help you pursue your potential claim.

Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeal issued an opinion in a case involving a scooter accident. The plaintiff, as executor of the decedent’s estate, filed a claim against the Raleigh Police Department and the City of Raleigh alleging that an officer hit his scooter head-on. The officer was speeding in the westbound lane of a two-lane road while pursuing another driver who was also speeding. The decedent was traveling east-bound on the same road. Without using a turns signal, the decedent turned left into the officer’s driving lane. The vehicles collided head-on and killed the scooter driver and his passenger.

The lower court granted both defendant’s motions for summary judgment and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. This means that the plaintiff would not be able to refile the complaint again. The plaintiff appealed the lower court’s ruling on a variety of grounds. First, the plaintiff alleged that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the officer was grossly negligent in how he was operating his patrol car. Second, the plaintiff alleged that government tort immunity did not bar her claims because the officer acted recklessly. Finally, the plaintiff alleged that her claim for negligent training/supervision against the City should not have been dismissed because the City conceded that it trained patrol officers to engage in vehicle pursuits in the manner that the officer did here.

Reviewing the facts in the record, the appellate court concluded that the officer’s conduct did not rise to the level of recklessness. A vehicle passed him at a speed of 70 m.p.h., and he pursued the vehicle. he did not activate his siren or blue lights. The officer was justified in driving at an excessive speed for the purpose of catching up to the speeding vehicle. Part of the issue involved the decedent’s failure to use a turn signal before entering the officer’s lane of travel. Also, evidence from the toxicology report showed that the decedent’s blood-alcohol level was 0.16, which is twice the legal limit for drivers in North Carolina. Ultimately, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s grant of summary judgment.

If you were hurt while riding a scooter or moped or lost a loved one because of a scooter or moped accident, you should contact Maurer Law as soon as possible to start learning about your potential right to financial recovery. We know that no amount of money can truly make what happened to you go away, but it is an important step in covering your expenses and making sure that you have the care and support you need. our Raleigh car accident lawyers provide a free consultation to discuss your situation. Call us today at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to get started.

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