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Family to pursue wrongful death claim after fatal car accident

These blogs are posted on behalf of Seidel, Cohen, Hof & Reid, LLC, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

No charges have been filed against the man believed responsible for the death of a pedestrian in an accident that occurred on the night of Nov. 25, 2014. Pennsylvania authorities initially questioned the 66-year-old man behind the wheel at the time of the car accident, but no charges were ultimately filed. The case was closed nearly a year later.

The police report from the night of the accident says the 53-year-old pedestrian was walking near his home when he was struck by a luxury vehicle being driven by the 66-year-old, a prominent business owner. The pedestrian was killed in the collision, while the driver did not appear to suffer any injuries. Police responded to the scene and questioned the driver, who apparently smelled of alcohol. 

Breathalyzer tests conducted at the scene confirmed what the failed sobriety tests suggested: the man had a blood alcohol level of .072, barely below the legal limit of .08. The man was taken in for further testing, and was later sent home via cab. The blood test taken at the hospital hours after the accident listed his BAC at .06, and so the case was dismissed from court. 

However, the family of the deceased man may still have a shot at justice under Pennsylvania law. Even though criminal charges are not going to be filed in this case, the pedestrian's family is expected to file a wrongful death claim in civil court. If it can be established that the driver thought responsible for this car accident was negligent in a manner that contributed to the victim's death, a monetary judgment may be awarded to the decedent's surviving family members. Pennsylvania is known as a comparative negligence state, meaning that recovery of damages by the victim's estate is still possible so long as the victim was less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. In those circumstances, damages may still be awarded upon proof of the driver's greater degree of negligence, though they would be decreased by the victim's own degree of negligence.

This blog entry was posted on behalf of Seidel, Cohen, Hof & Reid, LLC, and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

Source: lehighvalleylive.com, "No charges for business leader drinking before fatal crash, cops say", Nick Falsone, Nov. 24, 2015

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