Last November, “The Fast and the Furious” actor Paul Walker and former race car driver Roger Rodas lost their lives after crashing a high-performance Porsche in Santa Clarita, California. Although the report from the crash investigation says that the accident was caused by speeding (93 mph), Kristine Rodas is still looking for answers to explain her husband’s death.
Ms. Rodas recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Porsche Cars North America, claiming that her husband’s 2005 Porsche Carrera GT—which is capable of going from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 205 miles per hour—was not equipped with a proper crash cage and safety features in the gas tank that could have saved its occupants’ lives. The suit also alleges that a mechanical malfunction forced Rodas off the road.
It’s less common to hear about this kind of solo-vehicle wrongful death lawsuit than it is to hear about multi-vehicle accidents in which one driver was clearly reckless or negligent. However, there are legitimate reasons for filing a wrongful death suit in solo-vehicle accident cases: if unsafe road conditions or a manufacturer defect resulted in a fatal accident, then the surviving family of the accident victim has a right to hold the negligent party responsible.
Cases in Which a Car Accident Results in Wrongful Death
If you’re considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit after the loss of a loved one in a car accident, the first thing you need to do is determine who was responsible for the accident. Some examples of a negligent party include:
• Another driver who was intoxicated, distracted, sleep-deprived, inexperienced, or driving recklessly for another reason
•The city or state, if they failed to maintain safe road conditions (e.g. if the city knew about but did not fill in the large pothole that caused your loved one to lose control of their vehicle)
•The vehicle manufacturer, if their vehicle contained a defective part such as faulty brakes or failing suspension, and that defective part caused a fatal accident
Although there is always an official investigation into fatal car accidents, as there was in the Paul Walker/Roger Rodas case, you may need to hire your own investigative team to determine the cause of the accident.
Initial Steps to Strengthening Your Case
File a wrongful death lawsuit within the statute of limitations. If you suspect that your loved one died as a result of a third party’s negligence, you should contact an experienced attorney and file a lawsuit as soon as possible, in part because it will be easier to reconstruct the accident the sooner you file, and also because you are legally required to make your case within a certain time frame. The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases varies from state to state; in Florida it is two years.
Gather concrete evidence. In some cases, your attorney may hire an investigative team to return to the scene of the evidence to look for things such as skid marks and road flaws. The specialists will likely look closely at the car(s) involved in the accident as well. Meanwhile, your attorney may subpoena footage from traffic cameras, surveillance cameras, or even someone who filmed the accident on their phone, if that sort of evidence is available. Interview witnesses. If anyone witnessed the accident, your attorney should meet with them as soon as possible, since memories become faultier with the pass of time.
Present your case in court. You should always have a well-qualified wrongful death attorney represent you in this type of case since so much is at stake, but more so if you are going up against a car manufacturer or insurance company. These organizations will do everything they can to prove your loved one’s actions contributed to the accident, and you’ll need a lawyer who has handled this type of case to counter their arguments and give you the best chance of recovering compensation.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 15-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The Injury Law Firm of South Florida, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.
Imagine sleeping soundly in bed and then a loud crashing crane comes through your roof. It was a scene that happened this week in North Miami Beach, where a crane that was being used to repair a seawall slid off a barge and struck the roof of a condominium building. [gallery type="slideshow" link="file" size="large" [..]
Car accidents can happen anywhere. Especially where you least expect it. Parking lots, driveways, parking garages, and drive-thrus are well-known for accident scenes. Even your own living room. On Wednesday, August 21st, an accident involving two cars ended up crashing into a Miami Gardens home. One of the drivers was air lifted to a [..]
Dade and Broward county roads are about to become a bit more confusing and request drivers to be more attentive to the road and the scheduled construction plans on the 826 Palmetto Expressway and I-75 throughout August 2019, while making room for a new Express Lane on the 826 Palmetto Expressway. As auto accident attorneys [..]
July 4th tends to evoke backyard barbecues, poolside cocktails, and fireworks at dusk. We usually think of spending this holiday with family, and staying close to home. On the contrary, AAA pegs the fourth as one of their busiest days. Did you know the average distance traveled on July 4th is 617 miles? What’s more, [..]
When most of us think about Fourth of July safety, we think about fireworks. Although improper use of fireworks can cause serious injuries, there’s a less obvious risk: food poisoning. Most Fourth of July celebrations involve outdoor gatherings, with perishable food that’s often brought in by a number of people, some of whom may not [..]
Summer is upon us, and it’s peak swimming pool season in the sunshine state. Although swimming is a great way to cool off and get some exercise, it can also be dangerous. Statistics show three children die every day from swimming pool accidents, and many more people sustain serious injuries. In many cases, these tragic [..]
Memorial Day offers a time to celebrate loved ones lost. It also signals the beginning of another Florida summer which often means road trip! In either case, we all find a reason and a way to cut loose. Unfortunately, these celebrations also lead to an uptick in car accidents. The primary causes? More cars on [..]
Johnson & Johnson has been a trusted name in cosmetics and household products for decades. However, in recent years, they have come under fire for lawsuits that suggest their talcum powder products caused cancer. The company isn’t just paying with a blow to their reputation, either. Earlier this year, a woman in California won $29 [..]
Every summer, Floridians look forward to that much needed break that summer camp provides: the kids to get away from the daily grind of the school year, and you to get a little breathing room from them. Exactly how much of a break would it be, though, if you’re still holding your breath in anticipation [..]
Temperatures are rising and a lot of long weekends are just around the corner. Whether you’re planning to hop in your boat for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or other summer holidays, it’s important to stay safe this season. Boating accidents do happen here in Florida, and many can be fatal. In 2017, 658 [..]
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
Uber and Lyft have really made getting around town a lot easier. The apps are simple to use, the cars are relatively inexpensive, and getting a ride only takes a few minutes. However, as wonderful as Uber and Lyft are for convenience when you need a quick lift, it is important to remember that [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Florida’s summer is well underway, and the hot weather is a perfect excuse to get out on the water. With close to 900,000 registered vessels in the state, chances are that you or someone you know owns a boat and is planning to use it this season. Getting out on a lake or the ocean [..]
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]