Wrongful Death Cases: Approaching Them From Multiple Angles

Want to avoid losing a wrongful death lawsuit—or, at the very least, avoid putting it in serious jeopardy? If you manufacturer a limited-edition, highly-dangerous item, like a sports car that doesn't include the stability system everyone expects it to have, don't jokingly (or not) speculate that the value of the remaining vehicles goes up every time someone else wraps one around a tree as if it were good news.

Between that and trying to hide evidence, Porsche may have done irreparable harm to its defense in the wrongful death lawsuit by the surviving family of Paul Walker, of Fast and Furious fame. Here's what you should know.

1. The wrongful death lawsuit was brought by Paul Walker's daughter, Meadow, after the movie star was killed while riding as a passenger in a 2005 Carrera GT that spun out of control and burst into flames after hitting a power pole.

2. Porsche is known for its Porsche Stability System but deliberately left it off the 2005 Carrera. This forms the basis of the wrongful death claim because that can be considered a defect in design, which is a type of negligence. If consumers were expecting an inherently safer product then they were given, without full disclosure from the company in terms that buyers could understand, that's a very weak point in the defense.

3. An email from a Porsche employee acknowledged it was rumored that 200 out of 1280 of the limited edition vehicles—slightly more than 15%—had already been destroyed in accidents. Failing to withdraw the car from the market or issue warnings to owners when it is clear that owners were facing a substantial risk of harm could be considered a defect in warning, another type of negligent action on the part of the manufacturer.

4. It's alleged that the company tried to hide the emails, which joked about the increasing value of the remaining cars. Hiding, attempting to delete, or otherwise destroying evidence (including internal emails) in a civil case is called spoliation of evidence. If the evidence is successfully destroyed, the jury is permitted to draw a negative inference from its destruction. It shows a "consciousness of guilt" that says the party destroying evidence had reason to want to keep it from being seen.

Even though the evidence wasn't actually destroyed, the jury can take into account that the company tried to hide the emails or keep them from the plaintiff's team as it determines how much value to put into them.

Wrongful death lawsuits are often multi-faceted in their approach, and this case illustrates how they can be approached in different manners at once. If the jury fails to find a defect in manufacturing, they may find a defect in warning—which still wins the case for the victim's survivors.

For more information on wrongful death claims, talk to an attorney near you.

About Me

Always Be Prepared for Accidents at Your Apartment Complex

I live in a big city, and apartment-living is the only affordable option for me. I learned my lesson about apartment complex injuries one day when I tripped over a pothole in the parking lot, fell, and suffered a concussion. I didn't think about anything else at the time other than getting to the nearest emergency room. Once I returned home and was ready to report the injury to my building owner, they had already filled the pothole and denied that it ever existed! Now, when I notice any dangers in my complex, I take photos in advance to prove they existed to help myself and others later if they suffer an injury. I am now very determined to help others who suffer these injuries, so I decided to start a blog to share accident laws and tips that I am learning. Come back often to learn your rights!

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