Two years ago, Kaitlyn Timko, the 10-year-old behind the "Pa. Girl Sues Dad" headlines, was in the back of her father's car when he swerved into another lane, setting off a chain of events that would leave him with four bullets in the head and a very traumatized daughter.
Brought by the girl through her mother, the lawsuit contends that her father's negligent behavior is the legal cause of her emotional distress, making him responsible for the costs of therapy.
Thomas Timko didn't just swerve into another lane, according to the Associated Press. When the other driver reacted, he gave him the finger through the sunroof. This somehow escalated, and ended in the shooting.
Kaitlyn Timko allegedly suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder from witnessing these events.
The big contention with this case is whether Thomas Timko's negligent behavior is the legal, or proximate, cause of his daughter's trauma.
Defendants are only liable for those harms that are a foreseeable result of their actions. However, even a foreseeable harm may not impart liability if is too remote, or disconnected, from a defendant's actions.
Was it foreseeable that Thomas Timko's bad driving would lead to a shooting? Or that his decision to flip off another driver would cause his daughter trauma? Or are his actions too disconnected from his daughter's emotional distress?
There's no right answer, and a jury will need to decide unless the parties settle.
Speaking of which, this may be a girl sues dad story, but the AP reports that Thomas Timko has no assets. However, because the events happened while driving, Kaitlyn Timko can recover from her father's car insurance company if she can prove that he drove negligently.
- Pa. Girl Sues Dad, Claims He Triggered Traumatizing Road Rage Incident (ABA Journal)
- Negligence (FindLaw)
- Albert Haynesworth Road Rage Leads to Assault Charge (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)