Two women were severely injured, and an 8-year-old girl was killed, when their car went out of control on Interstate 81 at 8:45 p.m. on May 22. The vehicle struck a rock embankment, according to the Pennsylvania state police. The girl, listed as residing in Jessup, died from the car accident at Lehigh Valley Hospital two days later. The driver of the car is a 33-year-old woman, also from Jessup.
It is currently unknown if the driver was the girl’s mother. Both the driver and an adult passenger, a 25-year-old woman of Scranton, wore no seat belts and were ejected during the crash, according to police. All three occupants were flown by medical helicopter to Lehigh Valley Hospital. The precise condition of the two women is unknown at this time.
The girl was in the rear seat wearing a seat belt but not a booster seat as required by state law. Pending their investigation, police did not offer any information on whether there was drug or alcohol impairment involved. There is little doubt under the reported facts that the driver negligently caused the accident, although such judgment is best reserved until after the authorities issue their accident and forensics report.
Based on the current reported facts regarding this heartbreaking car accident, the severely injured passenger has a claim for personal injury damages against the driver. Furthermore, the estate of the deceased child also has a probable claim for wrongful death damages under Pennsylvania law. If the driver is also the mother of the decedent, it is likely that the insurer for the mother will nonetheless be liable for damages to the child’s estate. Under the ancient inter-family tort immunity rule, immediate family members could not collect from each other in an accident. However, the doctrine was struck down in this and most states, and it no longer prohibits such recoveries.
This blog entry was posted on behalf of 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, “8-year-old dies after Pa. interstate accident, coroner says“, Kurt Bresswein, May 23, 2016