From the outside, it may seem that settlements and jury awards in liability cases are excessively high. Tens of thousands to millions of dollars are paid to Pennsylvania plaintiffs in personal injury and
wrongful death claims
. Where does that money go?
The victim of a car crash and surviving family members receive compensation through settlements or jury awards for damages. The money to pay plaintiffs often comes from an insurer as it did with a recent York County case over a pedestrian's death.
The victim's son filed the negligence claim against the York County Sheriff's Department for his father's February 2010 death. The 74-year-old victim was struck and killed by a patrol car while walking along a road.
Court papers claimed the driver was speeding and did not try to prevent the crash. One of the patrol car's lights was burned out at the time of the 1 a.m. accident.
The sheriff's office denied the deputy's actions were criminal or careless. Officials asserted the pedestrian was walking in the middle of the road in a badly lit area. The darkly-clad man was not crossing the street at a designated crosswalk or intersection.
A solicitor's report added that another driver, who preceded the deputy by about a minute, was forced to swerve to avoid a "thin, older man" on the same road. Authorities believed the pedestrian was the same man who later died.
The $87,500 settlement was accepted by the plaintiff just before a scheduled trial.Part of the settlement satisfied a $2,500 survival action which addressed the pain and suffering the victim would have endured had he survived. The remainder satisfied $30,000 in legal fees. The final $57,000 went to the victim's family.
Settlements do not require defendants to admit liability. An agreement also saves additional legal costs for defendants and plaintiffs. Settlements spare victims and family members from having to recount painful circumstances.
York County Sheriff's Office reaches settlement in wrongful death lawsuit
" Jonathan McFadden, Jul. 03, 2013