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Car accidents: Passenger's death may lead to wrongful death claim

In Pennsylvania, as in other states, the driver of a vehicle is responsible for the safety of the passengers traveling with him or her. Unfortunately, drivers are sometimes distracted by their surroundings or mobile devices, and in some cases, alcohol or recklessness may play a part in the negligent actions that lead to collisions. Any personal injuries or deaths resulting from car accidents that were caused by allegedly negligent drivers could lead to civil claims, regardless of the relationship between the driver and the passengers.

Investigators were reportedly planning to reconstruct an accident that claimed the life of a 20-year-old passenger in a three-vehicle accident on Interstate 70 in Westmoreland County. According to an accident report, a westbound driver entered the Interstate and, without yielding, traveled directly into the left traffic lane. The 20-year-old driver struck another car, and the impact caused both cars to smash into the center barrier. A third car that was approaching in the left lane failed to avoid the wreck and crashed into the back end of the first car.

The driver of the third car was reportedly treated for moderate injuries, and the driver who seemed to have caused the crash was airlifted to a hospital with injuries of unknown severity. Sadly, the passenger in the front seat of the first car did not survive the crash and was declared dead at the accident scene. No mention was made of alcohol playing a part in this fatal crash, and it was also not clear whether mobile devices might have caused distractions in any of the drivers.

If the reconstruction investigators determine that the car accident was caused by the driver's negligence, the evidence they gather may benefit the plaintiffs in any lawsuits that may follow. It appears that grounds for a wrongful death claim by the estate of the deceased passenger exist, and the injured victims may have viable personal injury claims against the alleged negligent driver. Pennsylvania laws allow injured victims and the surviving families of those who lose their lives in car accidents to pursue litigation, based upon allegations of negligence, to seek recovery of documented financial and other losses.

Source: CBS Pittsburgh, "Woman Killed In Crash Along I-70 In Rostraver Township", Lisa Washington, Oct. 12, 2015

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