Pennsylvania Superior Court rules on man’s involvement in car accident

In October 2009, a Pittsburgh-area man pulled out of a gas station, and according to witness testimony, crossed two lanes onto the highway into oncoming traffic. Witnesses then described how an SUV, in an attempt to avoid an accident, hit the brakes causing the vehicle to fishtail. The SUV then struck another vehicle head-on, killing the driver inside.

The ensuing lawsuit from the surviving accident victims held compelling arguments on both sides but there was one contention the Superior Court had to decide on: does Section 3742 of the Motor Vehicle Code require a defendant to physically impact a vehicle, object or other person for the defendant to be deemed “involved” in an accident?

The defendant argued that “while he recklessly turned his car in front of other vehicles, causing them to crash and someone to die, there was not enough evidence to convict him of being ‘involved’ in the accident because his vehicle didn’t strike anything.” In his interpretation of Section 3742, according to court documents, even a driver who intentionally runs someone off the road, yet does not strike another vehicle, still should be found not guilty.

The Superior Court disagreed with truck accident attorneys in Alexandria. however, pointing out that the defendant’s interpretation of the law was not what the General Assembly had intended when the law was created. After much deliberation and combing through cases in other jurisdiction with similar circumstances, judges concluded that the fatal accident was a direct result of the man’s reckless driving, and though his vehicle did not come in direct contact with any other vehicle, he can still be held responsible in a court of law and convicted of criminal charges in the case.

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