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You can’t always tell who’s liable for a wrongful death

A Texas mother suffered the tragic loss of her son when his vehicle collided with the Sport Utility Vehicle driven by The Weather Channel's storm chasing crew. In the lawsuit that was filed by the mother, she claimed that her 25-year-old son had the right of way when the Storm Wranglers program Suburban failed to stop at a stop sign and struck her son's Jeep at a speed of 70 mph. The lawsuit further alleged that the occupants of the SUV would regularly drive recklessly and fail to stop at stop signs. 

The victim in the crash, Corbin Jaeger, worked for the National Weather Service and was driving away from a tornado located in nearby Spur, Texas, when the crash occurred with the Storm Wranglers driving toward the storm. All three men died in the ensuing crash. The suit also alleged that The Weather Channel had received other previous warnings from professional storm chasers to pull their reckless drivers off the road before they became a danger to themselves or others. 

The incident was live-streamed, and the complete video shows the chasers running through multiple stop signs at dangerous speeds shortly before the impact occurred. The reason the suit was targeted at The Weather Channel was that the mother felt that it was the theme of the program. She believed they promoted a dangerous enterprise is dangerous and that rewarded recklessness. It was also noted that the station sent both men out without any type of emergency training. 

How is liability determined in a wrongful death suit

Half the battle for this determined mother is proving who was liable, and inherently responsible, for compensating her for her loved one's death. To establish liability, it is vital to determine whose negligent or intentional actions resulted in death. If there is no evidence that the person being sued bears any liability, the suit is likely to be dismissed and no settlement reached. 

Determining liability always starts with an investigation phase. That phase can be simple or complicated depending on the factors that are involved in the accident or incident. The party being sued will be conducting their own investigation, and your attorney will have a staff to handle theirs. This will be one of the first steps that your lawyer will take, to ensure that the right party is identified and the suit will have a better chance at being successful. Your attorney will:

  • Comb through all of the facts surrounding the accident.
  • Seek out, meet with, and interview witnesses.
  • Obtaining copies of accident reports, autopsy reports, and medical records.
  • Securing any video or photographic evidence of the accident or the scene. 

How to prove liability in a court setting

If a wrongful death lawsuit suit does not settle, and instead proceeds to trial, it will be the responsibility of the person bringing the suit to prove that the other party was liable. When proving liability, there are a few things that will need to be proved in court for liability to be properly established. 

  • The person that is being sued had a duty to the person who died in the accident or incident.
  • The person being sued in some way breached that duty of care.
  • You suffered monetary, physical, or emotional damages.
  • The defendant's breach of care was the reason that the damages were suffered. 

If you can prove all of these things, then the case is more likely to swing in your favor. 

Tracing liability is crucial to any successful wrongful death lawsuit. If you don't properly determine who is responsible for the cause of the accident or incident, or fail to prove how their action led to injury, you may find yourself with a dismissal of your case. Find a qualified attorney to help you properly investigate the incident and determine who can be held liable for the death of your loved one. 

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