When someone dies due to the negligence of another person, the family of the deceased person may decide to seek financial compensation for their loss via a civil lawsuit. Known as a wrongful death lawsuit, when successful, it assigns a dollar amount to the life of the person who has died. This number is dependent on a variety of factors including the person's age and profession at the time of death.
To be successful in this type of case in Pennsylvania, the defendant has to be 50 percent or more liable for the accident.
The Pennsylvania family of a young man who died in a car accident in 2007, recently learned that it will not be awarded anything for the death of the teenager. In making that determination, the jury in Schuylkill County determined that PennDOT was 25 percent responsible for the fatal accident and the 17-year-old was 75 percent liable.
The accident which the lawsuit arose out of occurred on a rainy night in December 2007. As he drove on State Route 4006, also called East Biddle Street, he reportedly was involved in an accident. The teen sustained serious injuries in the incident and died due to massive head injuries.
The lawsuit, filed by the teen's mother, claimed that the slant of the road along with too much distance between drains was a violation of Pennsylvania state law. This violation reportedly made it possible for the road to flood, creating a huge puddle.
PennDOT's accident reconstructionist contradicted this assertion, saying that the fatal car accident was actually due to the speed the young man was driving when he encountered that portion of the road. He claimed that the teen's vehicle was going at least 60 mph at the time of the accident.
Cases such as these can be stressful and complicated both emotionally as well as legally. While the boy's mother is undoubtedly unhappy about the outcome of the case, she may seek some solace in the knowledge that a portion of the road that has been dangerous has been revealed. This may save some lives in the future.
Source: The Republican Herald, "Verdict favors PennDOT in fatal accident lawsuit," Peter E. Bortner, March 10, 2012