Thursday evening, around 7 pm on I-85 southbound near Henderson, NC, a tractor-trailer driven by Michael Gray Rigsbee, 38, struck a motorcyclist. The impact near mile marker 220 caused Sean Christopher Newman, of Cary, to lose control of his motorcycle and crash into the median. The severe impact instantly and tragically killed Newman. Unbelievably, the truck driver did not stop after the collision.
North Carolina State Highway Patrol Troopers caught up with the criminal truck driver approximately 20 miles further down the interstate. State Troopers charged the truck driver with 2nd degree murder, careless and reckless driving, and felony hit & run. The truck driver is currently behind bars in the Vance County Jail under a $120,000 bond. Let’s hope he stays there.
At Davis Law Group, we have handled similar cases involving tractor-trailer drivers, and the story we have heard all too many times is that the truck driver did not see the motorcycle, thought he had run over a log in the road, or claims that he heard a noise but did not see anything in his mirrors and did not know that he had hit another vehicle. Such are the excuses of hit and run drivers. Fortunately, there are ways of proving that a commercial truck driver did know that he hit another vehicle.
Tractor-trailers are equipped with black boxes (aka electronic control modules [ECMs]), similar to those on commercial air planes, that record incredible amounts of data from the truck whenever there is a crash or unusual event that effects trucks component parts, such as brakes, RPMs, etc. This recorded data is often very helpful in proving how and why a collision occurred, but the victim of the crash must act quickly to retrieve the data because it can be easily destroyed or erased. In interstate truck crash cases, we always retain an accident reconstruction expert to survey the scene, inspect all of the vehicles involved, and gather all Black Box data as quickly as possible. One can only hope that this truck driver will come clean and tell the truth about how the crash happened because the gentleman on the motorcycle will not be able to tell what happened from his point of view. Given this truck driver’s careless and reckless conduct, Mr. Newman’s estate would have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the truck driver and his truck company.
In cases like this, where the truck driver’s conduct is egregious, the jury could decide that punitive damages are justified. I have previously posted about the purpose of punitive damages.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured by the careless and reckless behavior of a truck driver and would like to discuss your case with a compassionate and aggressive truck lawyer, contact Asheville Truck Attorney Brian Davis.