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Personal Injury Law Blog

Who may benefit from a Pennsylvania wrongful death lawsuit?

To first understand who can benefit from filing a wrongful death claim, it is important to know what actually constitutes a wrongful death. The legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania considers a wrongful death as the premature death of an individual caused by the wrongful or neglectful act of another. Perhaps a good example of this would be a drunk driver causing an accident which results in the death of another motorist. Another example could be a charter fishing boat captain who failed to properly maintain lifesaving equipment which later resulted in the drowning of a boat passenger.

As a general rule, the right to bring an action for a wrongful death in Pennsylvania is extended only for the benefit of the decedent's spouse, children or their parents. This right of action is preserved by any of the above-mentioned surviving family members regardless of whether they reside in Pennsylvania.

Absence of fire detectors create dangerous property situation

A recent fire that claimed the lives of four children in Roseland, Illinois, earlier this month is a reminder that landlords play a significant role in reducing the dangerousness of the properties they rent. Speculation is now growing that the four dead children, ranging in age between 7 and 15 years old, may have perished in the second-floor apartment where they lived due to a lack of working smoke detectors in the dwelling. Sadly, the apartment did have smoke detectors in the apartment's hallway.

Although it has not yet been established whether the lack of fire alarms played a significant role in the Chicago, Illinois, area fire, similar questions remain about other deadly fires.

Veteran’s tribute ride honors motorcycle accident victim

On September 5, a group of Meadville, Pennsylvania, military veterans and bikers participated in a motorcycle rally organized to pay tribute to a fallen comrade. Roughly 25 veterans on motorcycles and other supporters participated in the event. Their primary goal was to escort the family of a deceased veteran who died in a California hit-and-run accident as they recovered his remains. It remains unknown whether police in California have discovered the identity of the hit-and-run driver.

The body of the victim, a 22-year-old active-duty Marine sergeant and former resident of the Meadville-Saegertown area, was sent to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after the young man was killed in California on Aug. 28 while riding his Suzuki GSXR motorcycle. Family members, friends and other supporters of the event gathered at a Meadville funeral home before setting off for Pittsburgh.

Alarming trends in distracted-driving related car accidents

As previously reported on our law blog, the growing trend of distracted driving has been fueled by the popular appeal of handheld electronic devices. In June 2014, Just Drive PA, a Pennsylvania organization dedicated to increasing public awareness about distracted driving, launched a publicity campaign related to that effort.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of Just Drive PA's campaign was that it brought attention to the fact that distracted driving is more than just when someone looks at their cellphone. It's also caused by eating, smoking, applying makeup, reaching for something in the back seat and more.

What does Pennsylvania do to reduce pedestrian accidents?

Pedestrian accidents in Pennsylvania resulted in the deaths of 122 residents 2011. At first glance, that number seems high but it actually represents a steady decline from the previous years. In fact, in 2001 there were 195 fatal pedestrian accidents.

Pennsylvania has identified crosswalks as being a problem area for pedestrian accidents. For this reason, in 2001, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation began placing signs in high pedestrian traffic areas that are specifically developed to alert motorists to the presence of pedestrians.

Do Pennsylvania laws help limit commercial vehicle accidents?

Chances are that you see commercial vehicles every time you take to the road. In Pennsylvania, medium and heavy trucks, buses and school buses operate daily throughout the Commonwealth. These are the package delivery trucks that deliver your online purchases, the chartered buses that shuttle gawking tourists through Amish country and even the bread trucks that deliver doughnuts to your favorite coffee shop. The sheer number of this commercial fleet and their frequency on the roads ensures that there are always a fair number of accidents caused by their use.

The good news is that Pennsylvania has specific regulations that govern these vehicles and attempt to limit commercial vehicle accidents. Here are a few examples of those rules taken from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's "Subchapter F":

Bicyclist survives drunken Route 313 truck accident

In what could only be described as something close to a miracle, Pennsylvania State Police say that a bicyclist survived after being struck by a tractor-trailer operated by suspected drunk driver. The accident occurred in East Rock Hill Township, Pennsylvania, along Route 313. According to records of emergency police broadcasts, a call came in to police from a motorist at about 3:48 a.m. on Aug. 10.

The caller was reporting finding a bicycle wheel on Route 313, which is also known as Dublin Pike, near North Fifth Street. Subsequent radio dispatches described how the bicyclist ended up off of the road after presumably being thrown over a guardrail.

Pennsylvania hospital shooting raises issue of premises liability

Last July, a patient at a Pennsylvania hospital unexpectedly flew into a rant about guns being banned at the facility before opening fire on his caseworker and wounding his psychiatrist. During the exchange, the psychiatrist was able to access his own firearm and stopped the shooter by firing back and injuring him. The defendant was then taken to the ground and apprehended. Additional ammunition was found in the defendant's possession.

This incident follows another situation that happened at a Utah hospital back in May. In that case, a man who had been turned away from the emergency room earlier returned and brandished two handguns before being shot and wounded by visiting parole officers.

Distracted driving crackdown aimed at reducing car accidents

The widespread appeal of handheld electronic devices such as mobile phones has led to a dramatic rise in distracted driving. A Pennsylvania organization known as Just Drive PA, has launched an effort in June to increase public awareness about the link between distracted driving and car accidents. Just Drive PA has collected data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and created a website to get its message out to the public.

Perhaps one of the most surprising details about distracted driving is that some states only require that new drivers refrain from texting while behind the wheel. Pennsylvania has taken a more strict approach. Drivers of all ages are prohibited from texting while driving. However, it's a mistake to think that texting while behind the wheel is the only form of distracted driving. The driver is considered distracted when their attention is taken away from driving. That means anytime that their eyes are diverted away from the road or their hands are removed from the wheel.

Tragic DUI accident may give rise to wrongful death claim

On July 19, a Bedminster Township, Pennsylvania, motorcyclist died just a block from his home after he was struck by an alleged drunk driver. The accident occurred in the small Bucks County town around 10:20 p.m. near the 700 block of Keller's Church Road. The victim was operating his motorcycle at that time and had one passenger with him when a vehicle driven by a 64-year-old man struck the motorcycle.

First responders took the 47-year-old victim to St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill, Pennsylvania, where he later died from his injuries. The victim's passenger suffered injuries described as moderate in nature.

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