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07 December 2015

Can You Sue A Car Company For Negligence And Wrongful Death?

In 2013, “Fast & Furious” actor Paul Walker died while the Porsche Carrera GT he was riding in sped out of control and ended up in a fiery crash. In 2015, Paul Walker’s father has decided to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Porsche because Mr. Walker believes that the Carrera GT should have contained safety features that could have saved his son’s life.

Meadow Walker, Paul Walker’s daughter, has also hit Porsche with a wrongful death lawsuit claiming that the Carrera GT was marketed as a street-legal racing car, but it lacked the proper protections to keep driver’s safe. The lawsuit contends that the defendant liability lies in the fact that the car should not have burst into flames on impact, and it was the fire that killed Walker.

What Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

wrongful death lawsuit is a tort lawsuit aimed at proving that the death of the victim was the result of negligence on the defendant’s part. It is not a lawsuit that is filed on behalf of the victim, but rather a suit that is filed on behalf of the surviving family members. It is a lawsuit designed to help ease the pain and suffering of surviving family members through financial compensation.

However, it is also used by many families to stop companies from manufacturing products or offering services that can be potentially fatal.

Damages In The State Of New York

Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of New York can be awarded for a variety of reasons. Some of the more common reasons include:

  • A lost inheritance for offspring of the deceased
  • Funeral expenses
  • Covering the costs of the final medical expenses for the victim before they passed away
  • A monetary value placed on caring for the surviving children
  • The financial value of income and support provided to the family by the victim

Many awards come in the form of compensatory damages (the damages paid when the defendant is found to be at fault) and additional punitive damages (an additional award granted when the act that brought about the death in question was thought to be especially violent or malicious). The actual award amounts are at the discretion of the courts, and they can be substantial.

Negligence On The Part Of The Deceased

The Paul Walker wrongful death lawsuits do not have monetary amounts attached to them as of yet. While it would be difficult to attach punitive damages to these suits, it may be just as difficult to prove defendant liability for the death of the actor. When the accident occurred, the vehicle Walker was riding in was going 93 MPH and Walker was not driving. This points to negligence on the part of the driver, which is something Paul Walker’s father has not overlooked.

Walker’s father is suing the estate of deceased driver Roger Rodas for $1.8 million. But this is not a wrongful death lawsuit. Walker’s father contends that the Rodas family owns vehicles that are also partially owned by the late actor, and Walker’s father says he is entitled to proceeds from the sale of those vehicles in the wake of the accident.

The family of Paul Walker is bringing two wrongful death lawsuits against the company that made the car the actor died in, but not against the negligent driver. As of now, neither lawsuit has been given an award amount. As with many wrongful death lawsuits, the amount of the award and the defendant liability will be left at the discretion of the court.