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Pittsburgh Wrongful Death Law Blog

Family of deceased student reaches $7 million settlement

On April 15, it was announced that the family of a Pennsylvania student who was killed after getting into an argument with three men was awarded $7 million in compensation from two bar owners. According to the complaint, the two bars involved in the incident were accused of serving the three men prior to the altercation even though they were both underage and visibly intoxicated.

On Jan. 14, 2012, the 23-year-old student was attempting to hail a cab when the three individuals pulled up in their vehicle. The argument escalated until the three individuals left their vehicle and began to attack the student. He died shortly after the incident. The three men ultimately pleaded guilty for roles they played in the death; one of the accused individuals was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

2011 crash lawsuit settled

A civil case against a well-known resort in Pennsylvania was settled just as jury selection was about to begin. A teenager's parents filed the suit after their son was injured in a Sep. 10, 2011, crash at the resort and died five days after the accident. The settlement was agreed to 48 hours after the court restricted the use of specific testimony at the trial.

The accident happened when a teenage driver, who allegedly had a BAC level of .136 percent, drove off the roadway and hit a tree. The driver faced charges of aggravated assault, vehicular homicide and DUI since his BAC level was above the .02 percent legal limit for drivers under 21.

Fatal accident involving highway construction worker

A man in Pennsylvania was killed on April 9 while working as part of a construction crew on the side of a highway. The fatal accident occurred along Route 22 in Hanover Township when the victim was walking behind a vehicle that was moving in reverse. At the time, the construction crew was working to repair a guardrail that had sustained damage in a separate accident.

According to a report from the Washington County Coroner, the 43-year-old man who was killed in the accident was standing in a utility guardrail vehicle driver's blind spot when he suffered fatal trunk and head injuries. While moving the vehicle in reverse, the driver had been traveling in an eastbound direction in the westbound lane. The victim had his back to the vehicle when he was struck.

Pennsylvania Superior Court rules on asbestos case timing

A Pennsylvania family was dealt a blow in March 2015 when their wrongful death lawsuit was quashed because they did not file the litigation within the time frame specified in the statute of limitations. Wrongful death lawsuits should be brought within two years under Pennsylvania law, and the state's Superior Court was tasked with deciding if this time limit applied to cases involving asbestos exposure and when the two years should begin.

The plaintiffs wanted the court to rule that the two year period began when the individual concerned died, but the judge ruled that the two-year period begins when an individual learns that they have an asbestos-related disease. The court ruled that the statute of limitations concerned did apply to wrongful death cases stemming from asbestos exposure, and it concluded that the language of the law was clear regarding when the statutory time limit should begin.

The cycle of fatal job accidents among oil and gas workers

New methods used to extract oil and gas like hydraulic fracturing have produced much needed jobs for workers. A study conducted by Natural Resources Economics, Inc., estimated Pennsylvania had up to 211,000 potential fracking jobs due to the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation.

Fracking jobs pay well for workers up to the physical challenges. According to pennsylvaniafracking.com, the average annual salary for a Pennsylvania fracking job is $62,000, well above the take home pay for most state residents.

What damages can families request in wrongful death cases?

Pennsylvania civil courts order damage awards to benefit survivors when a loved one dies due to another party's careless, reckless or purposeful actions. Settlements and jury awards from wrongful death claims help family members recover from hardships, like medical and funeral expenses, they would not have suffered if the loved one had lived.

A significant portion of monetary damages comes from the loss of a wage earner's income. Juries consider how much income the victim might have earned over time, factoring in the person's age and health at the time of the fatal injury.

The deadly delays of asbestos exposure claims

A tide of liability claims rolled into civil courts in Pennsylvania and around the country starting in the 1970s. Workers finally and fully aware they had been sickened by on-the-job asbestos exposure sought financial relief, the only remedy for illnesses that sought to kill them. The workers developed symptoms after working in factories, shipyards, mines and on construction sites, inhaling fibers that caused chronic and fatal health problems.

As the dangers of asbestos exposure became well known, widespread use of the cheap, heat resistant material dwindled. At the same time, lawsuits blaming companies and other parties for endangering employees' rose. Over 730,000 legal claims for asbestos injuries were filed by 2002 -- the lawsuits continued as long-dormant signs of mesothelioma, lung cancer and other diseases began to appear.

What tests help confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis?

An Allegheny County doctor cannot make an immediate diagnosis for every patient. The patient's symptoms and health history may point to a possible medical condition. One or more tests may be required before an asbestos-related disease is detected.

Fluid build-up in the body can be identified during a physical exam. Excess fluid is a mesothelioma indicator, but this sign alone cannot be used to pinpoint an asbestos injury. Testing is required to learn more about the cause.

Ice skate sellers sued in Pennsylvania federal court

When a Pennsylvania consumer is harmed by a product, responsibility for the injury and associated losses may lay with the manufacturer. Other parties along the chain of production also may be liable for defective or dangerous products including a distributor, marketer or retailer.

An unsafe product lawsuit was filed recently in a Philadelphia County federal court over a pair of ice skates. The plaintiff claimed she was injured because one of the ice skates she purchased from National Sporting Goods Corp. and Fingerhut, a subsidiary of Bluestem Brands Inc., had missing parts.

Death benefits for dependents of Pennsylvania police officers

Families of Pennsylvania police officers understand the risks loved ones take while on the job. The knowledge does not lessen the suffering for survivors when a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty. When a wage earner dies, grief and financial concerns frequently exist side by side.

Deceased officers' spouses and minor children may qualify for benefits through several state and federal government programs. Workers' compensation programs pay death benefits that help pay funeral costs. Families also receive partial replacement for income lost due to a wage earner's death.

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