Published: March 24, 2016
By: Richard Ogrodowski
In certain circumstances, a vehicular death can be avoided through the state or municipalities installing traffic devices to make a road less dangerous. In Angell v. Dereno, 2016 WL 913139 at *1 (Pa. Cmwlth. Mar. 10, 2016), the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania addressed whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment (this is a finding by the trial court that there are no issues for a jury to decide) to Ross Township and West View Borough (“Ross and West View”) in a wrongful death action where the mother sought to recover damages for the accidental death of her son, which occurred when the son’s motorcycle was clipped by an oncoming truck on a road near the boundary of Ross and West View. At the time of the accident, the son was heading down a hill and the truck was heading up the same hill, which had a limited sight distance. The mother argued the road was dangerous where the accident occurred and that Ross and West View had notice of the dangerous condition.
In reversing the trial court, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania found that it was for the jury to decide whether Ross and West View had notice of the dangerous condition of the road and whether the danger could have been addressed with Ross and West View installing traffic control devices. In fact, the mother’s expert, Dr. Ronald Eck, recommended warning signs that stated “Limited Sight Distance” and “Danger Blind Hill Slow”. He also recommended that a stop sign should have been installed, which would have prevented the accident. Thus, a jury will decide whether Ross and West View were negligent.