A Pennsylvania family recently told a packed courtroom of the impact the death of their daughter had on the family. She was killed in an auto accident in mid January. This was at the sentencing of the deceased's friend who was the driver of the vehicle in which the woman was riding when she lost her life. The family asked the court to hand down the maximum sentence to remind others of the severe consequences of driving under the influence of illegal substances.
According to the court documents, both the women had been consuming alcohol before taking to the road on that night. The car left the road when the driver lost control. It smashed into the railing of the bridge and flipped over into the brook. The passenger was unable to free herself from the vehicle and drowned in the cold water of the stream. It was reported that, in addition to the driver being inebriated, she was operating a cell phone when the crash happened.
Although the original charge was related to vehicular homicide, the driver pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of DUI and involuntary manslaughter. The original charge was dismissed, as it could not be proved that DUI caused the accident; however, distracted and negligent driving was proved. She was sentenced to be incarcerated, followed by probation, along with community service and monetary restitution of more than $15,000. The restitution covers costs related to a funeral, hospital expenses and loss of income of the deceased's father for the time he spent away from work to make the necessary final arrangements.
Families who have lost a loved one in an auto accident that was the result of the negligence of another party retain the right to pursue a wrongful death claim in a Pennsylvania civil court. Families of the victims should not have to suffer the financial difficulties typically brought about by such tragedies. Successful presentation of a claim may result in a court awarding monetary damages to cover all costs related to the accident, along with additional expenses allowed under state law.
Source: Olean Times Herald, "McKean County woman to serve jail term for fatal crash", Ruth Bogdan, May 9, 2014