Wrongful death lawsuits can be powerful tools in remedying the loss of a loved one. They remind potential defendants just how precious life is and that the law supports significant awards when an individual is tragically killed due to another's negligence.
One of the largest wrongful death settlements in Pennsylvania history was reached recently, and it underscores to the community the significant power of this legal tool. The particular case stems from a drunk driving case. In 2010, a man from Northampton County was apparently served over 30 drinks in the course of one evening from several bars, even though he appeared extremely intoxicated. After his night out, he got in his pickup truck and drove home, killing three people on the way.
The families affected by the tragedy filed an action against nine different defendants, including several different bars. After years of litigation, the defendants have agreed to pay over $12 million as part of a settlement agreement.
The settlement likely represents the amount that the families suffered in total as a result of the loss of their family members. In particular, a wrongful death action values losses based on an individual's current and potential earnings. In this case, the individuals who lost their lives were aged 22, 45, and 52. They were quite young for the purposes of calculating their earning potentials. Thus, the large settlement comes as no surprise.
While a wrongful death action cannot bring back a family member, it can help to cover the financial detriment suffered by the surviving family members. The action attempts to make a family whole again in whatever way possible -- and the large settlement reached in the liquor liability case provides hope to those suffering a loss that recovery is possible.
Source: readingeagle.com, "$12.7 million settlement in fatal 2010 DUI crash," Ford Turner, Nov. 8, 2013