The driver of a vehicle that caused injury or death in an accident is required to stop at the scene or as close as possible to it and provide appropriate information and aid in accordance with section 3744 of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code. Failure to stop constitutes a hit-and-run which is a criminal offense. It becomes a felony offense when a death is involved.
Fatal Hit-and-Run Criminal Penalty
If a person is killed in a hit-and-run crash anywhere in Pennsylvania, the driver who caused the hit-and-run death can be convicted of a Class 2 felony. That crime is punishable by a mandatory minimum of 3 and up to 10 years in prison and a fine of between $2,500 and $25,000.
Civil Hit-and-Run Wrongful Death Cases
According to Title 42 section 8301 of the Pennsylvania General Statutes, a wrongful death is caused “by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful act or negligence of another.” Wrongful death cases are civil cases that can be brought at the same time that a criminal prosecution is pending against the person who caused an accident. Pennsylvania wrongful death cases are filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate on behalf of the beneficiaries of the person who died as a result of a wrongful act or failure to act. These cases seek monetary compensation for the damages that the beneficiaries suffered as a result of a wrongful death.
A Philadelphia Uninsured Motorist Death
A recent Philadelphia crash resulted in a fire and the death a truck driver when the driver of a car backed up into the truck on a Schuykill Expressway ramp. The driver and his two passengers ran from the scene. They were later found at a local hospital. The 19-yeear-old driver car has been charged with vehicular homicide and having no insurance.
The Burden of Proof
The reason why a civil uninsured motorist insurance case can be brought at the same time as a criminal prosecution is because of the two different burdens of proof in the types of cases. The burden of proof in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case the burden is lower. It’s a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the claimant’s version of events is more likely true than not true. It’s lower burden.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance
The general rule in Pennsylvania is that uninsured motorist insurance will cover you or anybody who is a resident of your household who is a blood relative or spouse for injuries or death caused by an uninsured driver. Nearly all uninsured motorist policies define a hit-and-run driver as an uninsured motorist. What comes to issue is that uninsured motorist insurance in Pennsylvania is optional. It must be purchased separately from liability insurance. Given the high percentage of uninsured drivers, if you don’t have uninsured motorist insurance, you should cover yourself and your family members with it. In the event of a wrongful death that was caused by a hit-and-run driver, here are the damages that the decedent’s estate can seek:
- The decedent’s hospital and medical bills.
- The costs of administrating the decedent’s estate.
- The decedent’s lost earnings and benefits. These include the sums that the decedent reasonably would have earned to support of his or her family had he or she lived.
- Compensation for the value of the household services provided by the decedent, the physical and moral guidance and emotional support provided by him or her.
- Compensation for the pain and suffering that the decedent endured before his or her death.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
Contact a Philadelphia Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
When bringing an uninsured motorist claim involving a wrongful death, you’re proceeding against either the decedent’s insurer or your own insurer. There are many defenses to these claims, so don’t expect to be treated fairly. That insurer wants to keep all of that premium money that it has been paid through the years. You’ll be in need of an experienced and aggressive Philadelphia car accident lawyer from the onset.
After any accident involving a serious injury, contact a highly rated Philadelphia Pedestrian Accident Lawyer such as Edith Pearce. Unlike the huge firms with dozens of attorneys and many different attorneys handling different aspects of your case, Edith Pearce is personally involved in every case that we handle. She genuinely cares about her clients and you will not be treated like just another case or file.