Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Family Brings Wrongful Death Suit Against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

Posted by Charles Gilman | Oct 09, 2017 | 0 Comments

A wrongful death claim was filed by the estate of Reuben W. Weaver III in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas, claiming that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) was liable for his death. Weaver was driving on Schoeneck Road in Ephrata and approached its intersection with Springville Road. Meanwhile, Roseann Martin was also approaching the intersection in her pickup truck. Weaver stopped to allow for Martin to pass. A third vehicle, driven by Inderpal Kaur, suddenly approached the intersection and collided with Martin's truck. The truck was sent reeling and crashed into Weaver's at a high rate of speed. 

Emergency responders rushed Weaver to the Lancaster General Hospital, where it was determined that he had incurred a brain injury, several broken ribs, a foot injury, and a fractured spine, leaving him in a comatose state. Shortly after, Weaver developed pneumonia as he continued a lengthy course of treatment and was moved to Fox Subacute Care in Harrisburg. 

Weaver showed little improvement and was next placed in Harrisburg Hospital for more aggressive therapy, yet died just days later. His death certificate indicated that he had died from septic shock and organ failure stemming from pneumonia and traumatic injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Weaver had been responsible for the care of his elderly parents assisting in financial matters, chores, and transportation to medical appointments.

Weaver's parents were left without much-needed support from their son. His mother, Ella Weaver, who lived down the street from the scene of the crash, was able to see the immediate aftermath of the accident involving her son and has since suffered severe emotional hardship. 

PennDOT was responsible for maintaining the intersection where the incident occurred, which the claim says was improperly designed. PennDOT is alleged to have been fully aware of the faulty design, which had previously contributed to similar vehicle accidents. After Weaver's accident, the agency took action to enlarge the roadway signage and add more visual warnings.

The suit asserts that PennDOT owed a duty to Weaver to design and maintain the intersection in a safe manner based on the traffic conditions. PennDOT breached their duties in the following manner:

  • failure to implement a stop sign or traffic signal on Schoeneck Rd.
  • A failure to implement road signage or indicators of a crossroad
  • An overall failure in design & implementation to provide safety for motorists
  • A general maintenance failure to provide safety for motorists at the intersection

Mr. Weaver was a traveler on a public roadway maintained by PennDOT and was owed a duty of care. Due to the breach of duty, Weaver sustained severe injuries which directly resulted in his death, based on negligence. In accordance with Title 42 Section 8302, the cause of action survives a plaintiff's death.

About the Author

Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.

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