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Families of Pittsburgh flood victims bring wrongful death suits

Losing a family member in a tragic accident can be a traumatic and devastating time. And any wrongful death attorney knows that that loss is even more heart-rending when a single accident claims the lives of multiple family members.

One Pittsburgh husband and father experienced that nightmare when his wife and two young daughters drowned during a flood. They were trapped inside their minivan as the vehicle became submerged by 9 feet of water. This same flood killed another woman as well. The flood happened in a low-lying part of Washington Boulevard, which has been subject to chronic flooding for more than 60 years.

The surviving family members of the victims filed a wrongful death suit recently, alleging that the city of Pittsburgh and other city authorities had failed to fix the flooding problems. The manufacturer of the minivan has also been named in the suit for problems with the electric windows, which prevented the victims from escaping.

In response to this suit, the mayor described measures the city had taken, including installing floodgates and training public safety personnel in water rescue techniques. However, the surviving family members maintain that these measures were not enough.

When a family member has been killed in an accident caused by another person or entity's negligence, the surviving family may be able to bring a wrongful death suit against the responsible party or parties. Successful wrongful death suits result in a damage award, which can cover loss of support and services and medical and funeral expenses. When determining the amount of the award, the jury or judge will look to the age and condition of the victim, life expectancy, earning capacity and character. These factors are considered at the time of the victim's death.

Source: Post-Gazette.com, "Fatal flooding in 2011 on Washington Boulevard brings suit against many," Moriah Balingit, Feb. 2, 2013

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