Celebrity car accidents often make national news as a noteworthy event involving a famous person. Because of the extensive coverage usually given to these accidents, as well as the concern and attention they evoke from fans and others, celebrity car crashes can be useful in informing people about the legal issues that arise in a variety of different types of car accidents. They are also a somber reminder of the constant need to exercise care and attention while driving or riding in a vehicle.
John Nash Jr.
According to a news report by CNN, John Forbes Nash Jr , Princeton mathematician and inspiration for the film “A Beautiful Mind”. was killed along with his wife in a auto accident on May 23, 2015. According to New Jersey State Police, Nash, 86, and his wife, 82, were in a taxi when it lost control after trying to pass another car. They were pronounced dead at the scene after being ejected from the vehicle when it crashed into a guardrail.
Passengers injured in taxicab accidents, like all passengers injured in motor vehicle accidents, have a claim for compensation against the party responsible for causing the accident. If the taxi driver was at fault, the injured passenger can pursue a claim against the driver or against the cab company, assuming that the driver is the agent of the cab company. Sometimes, cab companies will seek to avoid liability by claiming that the taxi driver was an independent contractor or otherwise not an agent of the cab company, and an experienced auto accident attorney is often needed to fight such a defense.
“30 Rock” star and comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured in a six-vehicle crash on the New Jersey Turnpike on June 7, 2014. A truck driver, who fell asleep at the wheel, crashing into Morgan’s limo and causing a chain-reaction crash, reportedly caused the accident. Two others in the limo were injured and another person was killed. Morgan’s injuries reportedly included a traumatic brain injury, broken femur, broken ribs, and broken nose.
People who are injured in semi truck accidents due to another person’s negligence may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver. For example, a fatigued truck driver who was operating under an unreasonable delivery schedule may have caused the accident. Other types of potential negligence include lack of driver experience or training, a poorly maintained truck, and defective equipment. Family members of those killed in semi truck accidents may be able to pursue claims for wrongful death damages on behalf of their deceased loved one.
On November 30, 2013, actor Paul Walker, famous for his role in “The Fast and the Furious” film series, was killed in a car crash in Santa Clarita, California. Walker, 40, left a charity event with friend Roger Rodas in a red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT. Authorities determined Rodas was driving the car when it crashed into a lamppost and two trees, traveling at least 80 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour speed zone. Both Walker and Rodas were declared dead at the scene. In a March 2014 investigation, it was determined that the car’s speed was the lone reason for the crash.
Speeding is a common type of negligence that results in auto accidents. People injured as the result of an accident caused by speeding, whether they are a passenger in the speeding vehicle or occupants of other vehicles on the road, can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver for injuries resulting from the accident. As with accidents caused by other types of negligence, families members of those killed by a speeding vehicle may pursue wrongful death damages resulting from the loss of a loved one.
On June 20, 2011, “Jackass “and “Viva La Bam “star Ryan Dunn was killed when his Porsche 911 GT3 veered off the road and hit a tree in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Zachary Hartwell, a production assistant on “Jackass Number Two “was with Dunn and was also killed in the crash. A subsequent toxicology report showed that Dunn, the driver, had a blood alcohol level of 0.196, more than twice the legal limit in Pennsylvania, and the police report showed the car was traveling between 132 and 140 miles per hour at the time of the crash.
While it is common knowledge that drunk driving can result in criminal charges against the intoxicated operator of a motor vehicle, people injured by a drunk driver can also pursue damages in a civil action. A claim for damages is distinct from any criminal charges that may be filed, and the outcome of a criminal case—which has a different standard of proof than a civil case—has no bearing on the outcome of the civil action. Even instances where the drunk driver was killed and no criminal charges are filed, injured parties, as well as the families of those killed, can pursue claims against the estate of the drunk driver.
On May 20, 2011, famous pro wrestler “Macho Man” Randy Savage was killed when he suffered a heart attack while driving with his wife in Seminole, Florida, losing control of his Jeep Wrangler and crashing it into a tree. An an autopsy revealed Savage had an enlarged heart and advanced coronary artery disease. Drugs found in his system included a prescription painkiller and a small amount of alcohol.
When someone operates a vehicle with a known medical condition, they can be liable for negligence should an accident occur. For example, in many states, a person with epilepsy must be seizure free for six months before he or she can operate a vehicle. If a person with epilepsy fails to wait until the end of his or her state’s seizure-free period, he or she can be liable for negligence in the event of an accident. People who are injured in accidents caused by this type of negligence may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, caretaking expenses, and other types of damages stemming from their injuries.
On the afternoon of August 11, 2003, Herb Brooks, who coached the legendary 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, was killed in a single-car crash near Forest Lake, Minnesota on Interstate 35. It is believed that Brooks, 66, fell asleep at the wheel after driving all night. According to police, he was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash.
Driver fatigue is a common and often fatal cause of accidents, and fatigued drivers are usually negligent in operating a vehicle this condition (which has often been compared to drunk driving in terms of impact of reaction time and general awareness). Semi truck accidents caused by fatigued driving can be particularly devastating. As with most cases resulting from negligent operation of a motor vehicle, those injured by a fatigued driver may be able to pursue claims to recover medical expenses and other losses resulting from their injuries. In the case of a semi truck accident resulting from driver fatigue, claims brought against a trucking company.
Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car accident on August 31, 1997 in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, France, in a vehicle that was reportedly attempting to evade paparazzi at the time of the accident. Two others in the vehicle, including the driver, were also pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation concluded that the crash was caused by Diana’s driver, who lost control of the car while drunk.
While emergency situations may sometimes justify what would otherwise be considered negligent or reckless driving, the driver of a motor vehicle is nevertheless required to exercise—at all times—reasonable care relative to their particular situation. Failure to do so is negligence. Drunk driving is never considered reasonable conduct in the operation of a motor vehicle, regardless of the circumstances. People injured, or the families of those killed, can pursue claims for compensation for damages resulting from negligent conduct.
On April 10, 1992, famous stand-up comedian and actor Sam Kinison was driving with his wife on U.S. Route 95 near Needles, California when their car was struck head on by a pickup truck. The 17-year-old driver of the pickup had reportedly been drinking alcohol. Kinison was not killed instantly, but succumbed to traumatic injuries within minutes of the crash. Kinison’s wife, Malika Souiri, survived the accident with a mild concussion.
If someone suffers traumatic injuries in an accident caused by another’s negligence, and dies as a result of those injuries some time after the crash, the types of wrongful death damages that family members may be able to recover include the conscious pain and suffering of their loved one prior to death, medical expenses attributable to the fatal injury, and past and future mental anguish resulting from the loss of a loved one. Concussions resulting from negligent conduct are often compensable as traumatic brain injuries.
Baseball legend Billy Martin, known best as a long-time manager of the New York Yankees, was killed in a low-speed, single vehicle crash on his farm during an ice storm in Port Crane, New York on Christmas Day, 1989. Martin was reportedly a passenger in his own vehicle at the time of the accident.
In the case of inclement weather, a driver is not excused from exercising ordinary care. In many instances, icy road conditions require a higher degree of care than normal road conditions. A person injured in an auto accident in inclement weather may be able to pursue a claim for compensation if the party responsible for causing the accident was negligent. Additionally, even if someone is a passenger in their own car, they may still have a claim for damages if they are injured due to the negligent conduct of the driver of their vehicle.
On December 9, 1945, United States Army General George S. Patton was killed in a car accident on the way to a pheasant-hunting trip near Speyer, Germany. Patton, who was a passenger in the vehicle, which collided at low speed with a truck, was unable to brace for the impact and hit his head on the glass partition in the back seat of the car. He was taken to a hospital in Heidelberg where it was discovered that he had suffered a broken neck and a spinal cord injury, resulting in paralysis from the neck down. Patton died in his sleep on December 21, 1945.
A spinal cord injury can result in ongoing medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and loss of income and earning capacity due to limited mobility. People who have suffered spinal cord injuries in car accidents that are caused by someone else’s negligence can recover these damages. In Patton’s case, he died approximately 12 days after his accident. Family members of those killed in car accidents or by injuries sustained in an accident can recover damages for a loved one’s conscious pain and suffering prior to death, medical expenses attributable to the fatal injury, and past and future mental anguish resulting from the loss of a loved one.
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