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Family Wins $2.85 Million in Auto Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A Dauphin County jury has awarded $2.85 million to the family of a Hummelstown man killed in a 2006 wreck.

Fifty-seven-year-old William H. Smith was killed when a backhoe fell off a hauling trailer on I-83 and struck the vehicle he was driving. The backhoe had been negligently placed on the trailer.

In Pennsylvania, the family of someone killed in an automobile accident caused by the negligence of another person or company can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties.

Here is a report in The Patriot-News about the Dauphin County verdict:

Smith, a father of two, died on Jan. 3, 2006 when a backhoe was jolted from a tractor trailer on Interstate 83 and its bucket slammed into his sport utility vehicle.

Smith’s wife, Linda, filed suit a year after her husband’s death.

She claimed that workers at MGD Equiptech of Myerstown, Lebanon County, had not properly secured the backhoe to a flatbed trailer for transport.

MGD denied Smith’s claims and in turn added truck driver Robert Weis and his employer, Raynor Farm Service, both of North Carolina, as defendants in the case.

According to police, the backhoe was launched from its trailer and into William Smith’s vehicle when the boom of the digging machine struck the underpass for Paxton Street in Swatara Township.

The defendants blamed each other for the deadly accident. The jury found that all were at least partly to blame.

The truck driver was carrying the backhoe to Florida. Evidence at trial showed that MGD employees failed to measure the height of the backhoe or warn the driver that it was more than a foot too tall to pass beneath some highway bridges.

The backhoe had already clipped one other underpass prior to the fatal crash.

In its verdict, the jury attributed 35 percent of the negligence for the accident to MGD and allotted the rest of the blame to Weis and Raynor.

The judge presiding over the trial was Judge Bruce F. Bratton.

Every 16 minutes, someone is killed or injured in accidents involving tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers or semi-trucks. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that in crashes involving large trucks and other vehicles, 98 percent of the fatalities are the people in passenger vehicles.


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Posted in Car Accidents.

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