The defense attorney for an Allentown, Pennsylvania trucker said he plans to argue the defendant had no criminal intent when his tractor-trailer hit a 2000 Ford Taurus and killed a 65-year-old man in a fiery crash. The truck driver was unhurt in the accident on Interstate 78, but he was charged with recklessly endangering other people, involuntary manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter.
The 56-year-old trucker admitted to Pennsylvania State Police that he had fallen asleep while driving. He explained that he had tried to stay awake by rolling down the windows and blaring his radio.
His attorney said that his efforts to stay awake showed that he did not intend to hurt anyone. However, a previous ruling upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court insisted that professional truck drivers should be held to a higher standard because of their increased potential to cause harm to motorists. The court proceedings for the trucker were delayed when he arrived late to his court date and was apparently sedated by medication.
When a negligent driver in cases similar to this one faces criminal charges, the chances might improve for the surviving family members of the accident victim to successfully make a wrongful death claim. When negligence can be shown as the cause of someone's death, the responsible party may be required to compensate survivors. An attorney might be able to help a survivor understand his or her rights to recover damages like lost income and funeral bills. If an insurance company is involved, an attorney might also assist in negotiating a settlement.
Source: Lehigh Valley Live, "Truck driver in fatal Williams Township crash shows up to court unfit for trial, attorney says," Tom Shortell, March 2, 2015