Police and firefighters said there is no question as to what caused a flash freeze on the Shippingport Bridge that led to a fatal accident involving three vehicles.
Emergency responders said that a pick-up truck lost control going north and struck a car coming south on the bridge, then hit another pick-up truck. The driver of the car was killed. The drivers in both pick-up trucks suffered minor injuries. The first responders said the ice made standing and walking on the bridge difficult.
The bridge is next to the Beaver Valley Power Station which has two stacks that emit warm, moist air. When the steam from the cooling towers lands on the bridge during extremely cold temperatures, it becomes icy very quickly, creating a flash freeze. A police chief said because it is a state-owned bridge, anytime such conditions occur, his department alerts PennDOT. He said that PennDot was actually making its rounds salting the bridge the day of the accident. First Energy, operator of the power plant, said the company has never been notified of a problem with ice on the bridge. PennDOT said that the bridge is on a regular maintenance route, but they also have never been notified of a recurring problem with ice on the bridge.
Who Is At Fault?
The driver who lost control may share some responsibility—after all, it is a driver’s responsibility to pay attention, monitor speed, and be aware of dangerous road conditions. But, PennDOT could also be held responsible if it failed to post signs warning of hazardous conditions in winter due to the mist from the stacks or knew of the dangerous conditions that day, but failed to salt the bridge in a timely manner. Possible, First Energy could be partially accountable if it can be proven the company was negligent in providing proper safety conditions.
Government agencies are potentially liable for auto accidents caused, in whole or in part, by defects in highway design and maintenance although the liability is subject to doctrine of “sovereign immunity” in a particular state. Although sovereign immunity limits the government’s liability in some cases, there are exceptions, which vary from state to state, such as:
• The road became dangerous because of a change in physical conditions.
• The government agency knew of the dangerous conditions and had reasonable time to obtain funding and make repairs/improvements.
• Dangerous or misplaced road construction markers and barricades.
• Dangerous curves and defective guard rails.
If the family of the deceased believes the accident was due to the negligence of PennDOT or First Energy, they may should seek advice from an experience attorney who can help you determine if the family has a valid claim.
Proving that a dangerous roadway caused an auto accident is often a long and difficult legal process. Successful cases will not only benefit the victims; of equal importance will be the improvements/corrections in dangerous road conditions that can save lives – changes that, without litigation might not otherwise happen. In the meantime, the victim’s family may struggle financially. This is where Lawsuit Financial can step in.
How Can Lawsuit Funding Help?
Lawsuit funding is immediate cash without credit checks, employment verifications or monthly payments. Unlike a traditional bank loan, lawsuit funding is based solely on the details of your case. Clients make no payments until the case settles. If the case is lost, our clients owe us nothing.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an auto accident, Lawsuit Financial may be able to provide the financial support you and your family need while awaiting a settlement or other case resolution. We offer a no-obligation consultation and case funding review. If approved, cash can typically be available within 24 - 48 hours. Call us at 1-877-377-7848 or visit us online to get started.