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Lawsuit filed for motorist drowning

Vehicle fatalities are not restricted to highway crashes. For example, the family of a 73-year-old woman recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit for her drowning death from driving her vehicle into a retention pond.

A statewide silver alert for missing persons was activated after the victim left the Bridgewater Healthcare Center in Carmel during the early morning of Feb. 27. She was found dead in her Mitsubishi Eclipse in a retention pond on March 6.

In a lawsuit filed last month, her children charge that she steered her car off the access road and onto the retention pond embankment while she was trying to drive out of the health center's parking lot. Her vehicle left the road way, went down a steep embankment and disappeared into the pond where she drowned, according to the suit.

The lawsuit names the health center, a grocery store and a developer as defendants whose combined negligence led to her death. The plaintiffs claim that these defendants owned, maintained or controlled the access road, retention road and commercial center.

The retention pond and access roadway were unreasonably dangerous, according to the lawsuit. The area where the victim's car left the road did not have warning signs, guard or any safety measures.

The plaintiffs also claimed that safety measures at the parking lot were inadequate. It did not have lighting, lane separations or paintings, directional signs, curbs, gravel edging or barriers that could prevent a vehicle from going into the water or warnings identifying the edge of the road.

The victim's children seek punitive damages for the defendants' reckless and willful conduct through their combined failure to recognize that the negligent design and upkeep of the property could cause a fatality. Their suit also claims emotional distress because the children were at the accident site and saw emergency personnel recover her body.

An attorney can help families who have suffered the loss of a loved one seek compensation and damages from the negligent parties. Legal representation may help assure that these rights can be pursued in court or settlement negotiations.

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