A Utah family has filed suit against the Utah Dept. of Transportation for the fatal accident that took their teenage daughter, Justine Barneck’s life back on July 13, 2011. KSL News reflects back on this tragic accident, stating that 15 year-old Justine and her father Michael Barneck were traveling back home on SR 35 near Tabiona, Utah in Duchesne County when their vehicle crashed into the side of a sinkhole. UDOT reported that the sinkhole had been repaired due to an earlier rainstorm, but just before the Barnecks started back home, another storm had created the sinkhole again. The impact of the crash took Justine’s life and sent the father to the hospital with injuries. It was also reported that there was another accident involving the same sinkhole just before Michael and Justine had their Utah sinkhole accident.
So the family has now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against UDOT. The filing happened March 6, 2012 in the 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City Utah. The news story says family is seeking at least one million dollars in this case. The Barnecks claim that this sinkhole accident happened because of the negligence of UDOT for not posting any warning signs in the area.
I offer my sincere condolences to the Barneck family for the loss of their daughter.
As a Utah wrongful death lawyer, I think this lawsuit is well taken. I agree with the Barneck family that UDOT at a minimum should have placed caution signs just before the sinkhole to warn motorists of the hazard ahead. I’m not a sinkhole specialist, but it would seem that there is a much greater chance that a sinkhole will reoccur in or around the same area and that until road authorities are confident the ground has stabilized, that warnings should be placed in case the sinkhole reoccurs without warning.