PennDOT Immune From Lawsuit Over Lack of Guardrail

Posted on: June 27th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A 2008 decision by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania continued the long line of legal decisions denying victims the right to receive a personal injury award from a Pennsylvania car crash allegedly caused by the lack of a guardrail. A tragic PA car accident occurred when an automobile left the highway, hit a utility pole and two trees – rolling over before coming to a stop. The car crash resulted in the death of both occupants.

The PA car accident attorney hired by the parents of the passenger filed a lawsuit against PennDOT. She claimed that PennDOT’s failure to have a guardrail at that location was negligence because a guardrail could have prevented the fatal injuries from occurring.

The trial court ruled that PennDOT was protected by the Sovereign Immunity Act. Since the lack of a guardrail did not cause the driver to lose control and leave the road, Pennsylvania could not be held responsible for the PA car accident. Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court upheld the lower Court’s decision since the driver of the car was the responsible party for the PA car crash, not an owner of land or objects nearby. Fagan v. Dept. of Transport., 946 A.2d 1123 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008)

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