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Can You Sue a Car Manufacturer for Wrongful Death?

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Fans of the Fast & Furious movie franchise were shocked over the death of actor Paul Walker in November 2013. The 2005 Porsche Carrera GT that Walker was riding in collided with a light pole and two trees before bursting into flames in Santa Clarita, CA. Both Walker and the driver, Roger Rodas, were killed in the collision. Initial police reports state that the car was traveling in excess of 100 mph when it swerved out of control.

The actor’s daughter, Meadow Walker, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer of the vehicle, Porsche, claiming that the vehicle had a design flaw that failed to protect the vehicle’s occupants. Porsche has filed an answer claiming that Walker was at least partly responsible for his own death. The automaker also alleges that the vehicle in question was abused, altered, misused, and improperly maintained. Meadow Walker’s representatives responded stating it was “beyond regrettable that Porsche is trying to deflect its own responsibility by blaming the victim—Paul Walker—for his own death by getting into the passenger seat of its Carrera GT.”

In a second wrongful death lawsuit against Porsche, Paul Walker’s father is filing on behalf of the actor’s probate estate, alleging facts similar to those in Meadow Walker’s complaint. Mr. Walker’s complaint alleges in part that the automaker failed to install vital safety features that could have prevented his son’s death, including a breakaway fuel line that might have prevented the vehicle from bursting into flames after a crash. It is unclear if any other family members will be filing wrongful death actions against Porsche in the future.

If the lawsuits are successful, Porsche could lose millions of dollars in monetary and non-monetary damages in part due to the actor’s potential earning capacity had he survived the accident.

Who are the defendants in a car accident case?

Most people assume that the only defendant in a car accident case is the driver who caused the accident; however, this is not always the case. In the accident involving Walker, there was not another vehicle involved in the accident. Even if there had been two vehicles involved in the accident, the family could still have sued Porsche in addition to another driver for failing to install safety features that would have protected the occupants in the event of a car crash.

In some car accidents, you may have several defendants—the other driver, the car manufacturer, a parts manufacturer, the car dealer, a mechanic, etc. The key factor is to determine who the liable parties are for the car crash and name each one in the lawsuit. This maximizes your chances of obtaining full and complete compensation for your losses. An experienced Maryland car accident attorney understands how to perform a thorough accident investigation to identify the responsible parties and preserve key evidence to use at trial.

Have you lost a loved one in a car accident?

If your loved one died in a car accident, you may have a valid legal claim against one or more parties. While money will never be able to alleviate your grief or undo the damage that has been done, a financial settlement can help provide for your family and obtain justice for your loved one.

The personal injury attorneys of DuBoff & Associates, Chartered want to help you as you struggle to accept the loss of your loved one and move forward with your life. Call our office 24/7 to speak to a lawyer regarding a wrongful death lawsuit. Your consultation is free so you have nothing to lose, but time is very important—you only have a short time period to file a Maryland wrongful death action, so do not delay. Call our office before it’s too late.



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