A North Carolina motorcycle accident left the motorcycle driver and passenger critically injured. According to witnesses, a motorcycle driven by 24 year old Bruce Offenbacker, was traveling over 100 mph when he crashed head-on into a pick-up truck. The force of the collision caused Offenbacker to be thrown 97 feet, and his passenger, 20 year old Jasmine Shope, was thrown 154 feet.
According to investigating officers, the pick-up truck was making a left turn into a gas station. At the point where the pick-up truck driver stopped to make his left turn, officers measured approximately 550 feet of visibility down the road before visibility was lost due to the peak of a hill. An Iredell County Trooper was immediately behind the pick-up truck and confirmed that he never saw the motorcycle until the crash. Witnesses at the gas station estimate Offenbacker’s speed at over 100mph.
Offenbacker is no stranger to the criminal justice system. He has multiple prior convictions for both speeding and drug related offenses. He is currently awaiting trial for yet another speeding offense as well as possession of a fictitious vehicle title/registration/tag. If it is proven that Offenbacker was in fact traveling as fast as witnesses claim, it can give rise to a claim for punitive damages to anyone injured in this accident.
In North Carolina, victims who are injured by a reckless driver may be entitled to recover Punitive Damages. Punitive Damages are money damages that are separate and distinct from compensatory damages. Punitive Damages are intended to punish a defendant for “egregiously wrongful acts and to deter the defendant and others from committing similar wrongful acts.” The injured party must prove one of three things before recovering Punitive Damages: fraud, malice, or willful or wanton conduct. Operating a motorcycle at such excessive speeds would indicate a reckless disregard, or wanton conduct, on behalf of Mr. Offenbacker.