Claims vs. PennDOT After Route 73 Fatal Crash Dismissed

Posted on: June 29th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

On November 15, 2010, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania denied the personal injury claims of the Estates of 2 deceased occupants of a car that crashed on Rt. 73 in Berks County PA. The Pennsylvania State Police investigated the Route 73 car accident and determined that the driver was traveling too fast for the icy conditions on the highway.

The negligent driver lost control of the automobile which went onto the shoulder of the road, broke thru the guardrail and crashed into a tree. All 3 occupants of the car died. Lawsuits were filed by the Estates representing the driver and 1 of the passengers. Their PA personal injury attorneys claimed that PennDOT was negligent in not having a wider shoulder of the road and better guardrails.

The Berks County Trial Judge granted PennDOT’s Motion for Summary Judgment. The plaintiffs were not able to prove that any exception to sovereign immunity existed. No dangerous condition of the highway itself caused the crash. The width of the shoulder and the alleged poor condition of the guardrails did not cause the driver to lose control of the car on the icy surface of Route 73. The Appeals Court affirmed President Judge Schmehl’s decision. Lambert v. Katz, 8 A.3d 409 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010)