Wrongful death suits can be complex matters requiring the aid of a competent legal professional. A good example of this complexity is the pending civil lawsuit in the death of Fast and Furious movie franchise actor Paul Walker. Meadow Walker, the daughter of the deceased superstar actor, has filed a lawsuit against Porsche, the maker of the car in which her father died. It is her belief that Porsche bears responsibility for Paul Walker’s death because the car had design defects, helping precipitate his death.
In 2013, Paul Walker sat in the passenger side of a Porsche Carrera GT during a charity event. The driver, Roger Rodas, apparently sped along between 80 to 90-mph before running into a pole. As expected, this high-speed collision led to a fire, after which authorities pronounced both men dead.
16 year-old Meadow Walker contends that her father survived the crash, which would mean that it was not the proximate cause of death. Instead, she opines that the failure of Porsche to install certain safety features led to the occupants being trapped until caught in the blaze.
She believes that the proper safety control features would have prevented the seat belt of Paul Walker from violently snapping his torso and breaking other parts of his body. Immobilized, he lay in wait as the flames engulfed him and his friend, driver Roger Rodas.
Porsche challenges this narrative, claiming that they and the investigators are correct that the reckless driving of Roger Rodas was the primary cause of the deaths.
Elements of Wrongful Death
There are some elements that must be present in the facts for a plaintiff to be successful in a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Duty-the defendant (here Porsche) must have had a responsibility to protect the victims.
- Breach of Duty-the defendant failed in handling their responsibility to provide protection.
- Causation-the actions of the defendant were the direct cause of death.
In general, Meadow Walker must prove that Porsche’s manufacturing of the car failed to provide the level of expected safety. Also, she should demonstrate that beyond this failure, nothing else played a more direct cause of the occupants’ deaths. The automaker is clearly challenging the causation, steadfastly contending that the driver was reckless.
As is common in these cases, it will take time to discern just what was the ultimate cause of the deaths. Wrongful death is a legal specialty best left to the professionals. For this reason, it is always wise for anyone involved in such a lawsuit, whether plaintiff or defendant, to consult a personal injury attorney as soon possible.