Hit-and-run crashes are on the rise in the United States, reports USA Today. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of fatal hit-and-run crashes has increased by 13% between 2009 and 2011. There were 1,274 fatal crashes in 2009, in 2010 there were 1,393 crashes, and in 2011, there were 1,449. The article stated that in one year in Los Angeles," nearly half of all collisions in the city involved a driver who fled the scene." (The article did not specify what year this was.) The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that "about one in five of all pedestrian fatalities are hit-and-runs, and 60% of hit-and-run fatalities have pedestrians as victims." Alcohol played a significant role in these crashes, the foundation CEO and president, Peter Kissinger stated.
Hit-and-run crashes can lead to tragic consequences. In April of 2015, a Philadelphia boy was killed in a hit-and-run crash. Josephine Rivera was chasing after her 2-year old son David Alicea Jr. after he ran out into the street. Both she and her son were hit by a white Infiniti. The car fled the scene. David died from his injuries a few days later. Rivera also suffered significant injuries from the crash. The driver eventually turned himself in, but not until late August of 2015. The driver was identified as Miguel Cohon. He was charged with homicide by vehicle, as well as other charges. He is currently in jail awaiting trial. The car he was driving was not his. It was owned by two other people, Antoine Davis and Beth Glace.
Rivera filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Cohon and the two owners of the car, Davis and Glace, seeking over $50,000 in damages. A wrongful death claim is brought against a person or entity whose actions negligently or intentionally caused the death of a family member. Wrongful death claims are typically governed by statutes. Every state has passed some form of a wrongful death statute, including Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania statute states the following:
An action may be brought, under procedures prescribed by general rules, to recover damages for the death of an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another if no recovery for the same damages claimed in the wrongful death action was obtained by the injured individual during his lifetime and any prior actions for the same injuries are consolidated with the wrongful death claim so as to avoid a duplicate recovery.
Wrongful death actions can only be brought by certain family members, or if no family members are available the "personal representative of the deceased may bring an action." The eligible beneficiaries (family members) who can file a wrongful death claim in Pennsylvania are the "spouse, children or parents of the deceased." A plaintiff can recover "damages for reasonable hospital, nursing, medical, funeral expenses and expenses of administration necessitated by reason of injuries causing death," as well as other damages.
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or intentional conduct of another please do not hesitate to contact the law firm of Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.