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Drugs a factor in car accident death of Pennsylvania woman

Car accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and can change lives forever and cane devastating for the surviving family members. As any Pittsburgh wrongful death lawyer knows, this tragic event can be even more overwhelming when the victim was killed in an avoidable accident.

A Pittsburgh-area woman recently pleaded guilty to third-degree murder for killing a woman in a car accident. The crash occurred while she was fleeing police, and the woman also pleaded guilty to drug charges and driving under the influence. The victim, who was 25 years old, died at the scene of the accident. The driver was sentenced to a prison term of five to ten years, plus a term of probation.

When a loved one is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of someone else, the surviving family may have a civil wrongful death cause of action, even if the responsible party has already been sentenced in a criminal trial. Each state has its own wrongful death statute that provides a mechanism for bringing a wrongful death action. Typically, the victim's estate can bring an action to recover for personal injury, pain and suffering and medical and other expenses prior to death.

Many different situations can give rise to a wrongful death claim, including criminal behavior, a car accident or medical malpractice. In a successful wrongful death suit, the surviving family may be entitled to pecuniary, or monetary, damages. These damages can include compensation for loss of services, support or prospect of inheritance, plus expenses for medical services and the funeral. While no amount of money can bring back a loved one who has been killed, the damage award from a wrongful death action can help alleviate the financial burden on surviving family members.

Source: Post-Gazette.com, "Woman gets 5 to 10 years in fatal traffic accident," Jan. 8, 2013

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