Each year, municipalities face the heavy cost of snow removal. Snow storms cost North Carolina $4.5 million, and just one December storm cost Philadelphia $3.4 million. The president of the Insurance Information Institute said in a press release that severe winter weather caused 15% of all insured auto, home, and business catastrophe losses in the United States in 2014. Canada, meanwhile, spends an estimated $1 billion getting rid of snow annually.
Sometimes, though, the cost of snow removal is far graver than people expect. And that’s exactly what the family of Elizabeth Hill discovered last winter.
On February 21, a snowplow struck and killed 21-year-old Hill as she was walking home. Police have said that they’re not ruling out criminal charges, but nothing’s been filed seven months later.
“I would have thought that at least the criminal part of the investigation would have been done within a few months,” said stepmother Beth Hill.
Though no criminal charges have been filed against the driver as a result of the accident, her family has filed a wrongful death suit against the snow removal company, its owner David Langton — who was operating the plow at the time — and its insurance carrier, seeking an unspecified amount in punitive damages.
The lawsuit claims that the driver operated the plow negligently, recklessly, and carelessly, and that he created an unreasonable, and substantial risk of danger.
“I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose,” said Beth. “I’m having a hard time with the lying.”
According to the Hills, investigators said that a call and text matching the accident time had been deleted from his cell phone.
“If it was an accident I could have dealt with that,” said father Glen Hill. “But people hiding stuff.”
The Hill family hopes that the lawsuit will cover the $60,000 in medical bills that the snow plow’s insurance provider refused to pay. The insurers argue that Elizabeth was illegally walking in the dark, snowy street, a claim that Glen finds “absurd.”