Pennsylvania Turnpike Accident Claims 5 Lives

On January 5th, a tragic accident left five people dead and almost 60 injured on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Early on a Sunday morning, a tour bus and three tractor-trailers collided in a chain-reaction incident at milepost 86 on the westbound turnpike in Mount Pleasant, about 40 miles from Pittsburgh. According to Pittsburgh’s Action News, all five victims killed have now been identified by the Westmoreland County coroner. Among the dead are the bus driver, Shuang Qing Feng, 58, of Flushing, New York, and two bus passengers, Eileen Zelis Aria, 35, of Bronx, New York and Jaremy Vazquez, a 9-year-old girl from Brooklyn, New York. Daniel Kepner, 53, and Dennis Kehler, 48, both UPS drivers, also died in the crash.

Local hospitals received 60 patients, some in critical condition.

Local state troopers report that the tour bus lost control while headed on a downhill grade, and was unable to negotiate a corner. The bus went up an embankment, rolled over and then was hit by two tractor-trailers. A third tractor-trailer then hit the first two, along with a car.

The crash shut down the turnpike between New Stanton and Breezewood for several hours. Police called the scene “tragic” and “horrific,” said Pittsburgh’s Action News.

Who Is At Fault for the Accident?

After an accident like this, dozens of victims are left with exorbitantly high medical bills – some for recoveries and therapy treatments that might last for years or even lifetimes. Victims will likely need counseling and trauma therapy. Vehicles and property will need to be replaced and repaired. Victims might be losing wages due to missing work while in the hospital and recovering. Family members and loved ones of the people killed deserve compensation for the pain and suffering caused to them. Who will supply this compensation?

If someone’s negligence caused the accident, it hasn’t been proven yet. Police are currently investigating the cause of the accident. Lawsuits will likely follow shortly, with accident victims suing the tour bus company or some other entity that they believe was negligent.

How Does Personal Injury Law Work in Pennsylvania?

When someone is injured because of someone else’s fault, it’s a personal injury case. In car accident cases, Pennsylvania follows a no-fault insurance system. This means that after most traffic accidents, the injured person’s own insurance company will provide coverage for medical expenses and lost income, no matter who was at fault for the accident. If you’re injured as a passenger, you’d turn to the no-fault coverage of the driver whose car you were riding in. You can’t hold the other driver liable after a car accident in Pennsylvania unless your case meets a “serious injury” threshold. As a result, many minor accidents fall under the no-fault umbrella.

However, things change with severe injuries or wrongful death. If you were seriously injured in an accident, like the victims of the Pennsylvania Turnpike story above, you may be able to step outside of the no-fault system and file a liability claim. To do this, you will need help from a personal injury attorney to prove the other party’s negligence. And you will need to work with your personal injury attorney to prove to the courts that you sustained “serious injuries,” as this term is slightly vague.

In some personal injury cases, the person or business you’re filing a claim against argues that you are actually at least partially to blame for your injuries. If you do share some degree of fault for the accident that led to your claim, it can end up affecting the total amount of compensation you can receive from others, says AllLaw.

In shared fault injury cases, Pennsylvania follows a “modified comparative negligence rule.” Put very simply, this means that the amount of compensation (damages) you’re entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault. But if you’re found to bear more than 50 percent of the legal blame, you can’t collect anything at all from other at-fault parties.

Have You Been Involved in an Accident?

Tragic accidents can happen any time, in any kind of weather, and there’s almost always some kind of negligence involved. If you’ve been injured in a car crash or truck accident in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it’s time to get the compensation you are entitled to. Accidents are tragic and traumatic. As a victim, you deserve to have as much peace of mind as possible. As experienced personal injury attorneys, we help you fight for what’s yours. Let’s get started on your case today! Set up a free case evaluation by calling (412) 918-1241 or sending us a message online.


Scanlon & Wajton, Attorneys at Law

The Mitchell Building

304 Ross Street, Suite 510

Pittsburgh, PA, 15219

Phone: (412) 918-1241