Highway construction contractor ordered to pay $15.8 million in damages for Pennsylvania auto accident

by John Chapman

Brenda Gump-Schragl, then 52, was on her way to Primanti Bros. restaurant in Pleasant Hills, Pennsylvania. Her son, son, Daniel Gump, was trying to turn left from northbound Route 51 toward the restaurant, where a rehearsal dinner was scheduled for his sister, Dana. Oncoming traffic was backed up in the left lane as drivers merged from two lanes to one for the construction area. A driver in the left lane allowed Daniel to turn. However, Daniel didn’t see a pickup truck approaching very fast in the otherwise clear right lane. And, because of traffic backed up in a southbound turning lane, the other driver didn’t see the Gump vehicle.

The vehicles collided. Brenda suffered brain injuries as a result of the auto accident and was in a coma for five weeks after the crash. She has had to learn to walk again and still can’t use her left hand. She has suffered brain damage is unable to remember many things, such as when she has eaten. She sometimes does not remember her husband.

Brenda’s family filed suit against the other driver as well as PennDOT and its road construction contractor, Lane Construction. The other driver was eventually found guilty of speeding, driving too fast for conditions and careless driving near a work zone.

The lawsuit charged that PennDOT and Lane Construction contributed to the accident. The suit alleged that the traffic control plan for the work zone was unreasonably dangerous and no that improvements were made despite several earlier collisions in the same area.

An Allegheny County Common Pleas Court jury has now found Lane Construction Corp., PennDOT and the driver of the other vehicle were all negligent and responsible for the crash. The jury determined that the other driver was 42 percent responsible, PennDOT 40 percent and Lane Construction 18 percent.

The jury awarded the plaintiffs $15.8 million in damages. Ms. Gump-Schragl’s future medical and care expenses alone are estimated to exceed $4.8 million.

PennDOT and the other driver settled with the plaintiffs before the trial. Under applicable state law, Lane Construction may be held responsible for the entire $15.8 million verdict.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson fighting for families of auto accident victims

Everyone on the road has a right to reasonably safe road conditions. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we believe that when highway construction and trucking companies fail to follow minimum safety standards, they should be held accountable for the injuries and deaths caused by their negligence.

Highway work zones are dangerous. They are hazardous both for the drivers and passengers traveling through the complex array of signs, barrels, and lane changes and for the workers trying to build, repair, and maintain our streets, bridges, and highways.

Texas, California, and Florida recently ranked as the three States with the most crash fatalities in construction and maintenance work zones—each with at least 50 deaths. Over the 10 years from 2003 through 2012, Texas ranked as the State with the most worker deaths in work zones, followed by Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, California, Georgia, and Indiana.

The attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have handled dozens of cases involving accidents with 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles. For example, our attorneys helped achieve a $36 million verdict for the family of a teenager injured in a bus crash in East Texas. They also negotiated a $15 million settlement of a case involving an 18-wheeler accident that killed several members of the same family. And they achieved verdicts or settlements of $7.25 million, $5.2 million, $5 million, and $1.8 million in other 18-wheeler cases, just to name a few.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, Mr. Heygood, Mr. Orr and Mr. Pearson are all board certified in Personal Injury Trial Law* and have been voted by their peers as Super Lawyers in the state of Texas for several years in a row.** Heygood, Orr & Pearson is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service.

If you or a loved one has been injured, or if you have lost someone, in an accident involving a commercial truck, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering. Contact us today by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001 or by following the link to our website contact form to receive a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.


* Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law — Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

** Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.