Was the absence of seatbelts a factor in the fatal injury of two Pittsburgh drivers?

Pennsylvania – January 20, 2023

Two drivers were fatally injured in a two-vehicle crash in Westmoreland County after crashing head-on near Haws Pike, or Route 56, in St. Clair Township. The coroner’s office reported that the driver of a Dodge Ram was heading east on Route 56 as the driver of a Chrysler 300 was traveling west when the Dodge crossed the center line into the opposite lane and struck the Chrysler in a head-on collision. The drivers both suffered fatal injury at the scene and two others were transported to the hospital with injuries. The cause of death was named as blunt force trauma and neither driver had their seatbelt on at the time of the crash.

Time to file.

Compensation for a wrongful death, or injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident is in a family, or injured party’s reach to assist in the payment of any significant medical expenses, loss of wages, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering.  Legal actions must be initiated within Pennsylvania’s two- year statute of limitations to file a court case. The State of Pennsylvania uses both a “no-fault” system and a 3rd party liability system to determine fault, and insurance payouts and jury awards are based on this system. Drivers also have the right to circumvent Pennsylvania’s no-fault law and proceed directly against the at-fault driver under certain circumstances that result in significant injury. Surviving loved ones should talk with a Pittsburgh car accident lawyer to determine what to do about a fatally injured family member’s accident related costs, and how a family’s financially stability will be secured.

Loss recovery for victims.

Damages are the sum of money that may be awarded to an injured party to compensate them for property damage, or other losses after an accident.  The damage amounts attempt to financially measure the extent of harm that an accident victim has suffered because of a negligent individual’s actions.  Total awards can include both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages include:

  • Loss of earnings, or loss of future earnings
  • Medical bills
  • Cost of future medical care
  • Household expenses, because the injured party was not able to care for the house (not able to do the cleaning or make repairs, for example)
  • Costs associated with canceled trips or altered plans

Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Personal enjoyment
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium or companionship

Punitive damages.

When an individual’s actions are found to be intentional, egregious, and harmful, punitive damages may be awarded by a court to punish a negligent individual and to deter future similar acts. Punitive damages are governed by Pennsylvania laws that impose restrictions, sometimes requiring a higher burden of proof, including clear and convincing evidence that supports the harmful act.  When an accident victim is injured, or dies because of another’s actions, they, or their estate and family can pursue a wrongful death claim against another driver in court. Monetary awards in Pennsylvania have no cap on most damages, but there is a cap of $500,000 against local government agencies.

Motor vehicle rules post-accident.

An accident report report must be filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Safety within five days from the mishap if collisions result in death, injury, or significant property damage.  An auto accident attorney can explain Pennsylvania’s “modified comparative negligence” rule, where an individual can still recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit, but the amount of compensation will be reduced by an amount that is equal to their percentage of fault, but a plaintiff can only seek damages from the defendant if they are less than 51 percent at fault.

Hire experienced Pittsburgh legal counsel.

Accident victims who have lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident in the Pittsburgh area, or have been physically injured, and/or sustained property damage, should contact an experienced personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Scanlon & Wojton for assistance with a personal injury and/or wrongful death claim.

Scanlon & Wojton, Attorneys at Law

The Mitchell Building
304 Ross Street, Second Floor
Pittsburgh, Pa 15219

Phone: (412) 918-1241

Fax: (412) 235-7275


  1. https://www.wpxi.com/news/local/coroner-2-killed-multi-vehicle-crash-westmoreland-county/EJ7ZRULLBRAT5PV4OLRE6D3IY4/
  2. https://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/42/
  3. https://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/LEGIS/LI/consCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&ttl=42&div=00.&chpt=083.&sctn=001.&subSctn=000.
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