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

On Behalf of | May 13, 2019 | Personal Injury

A Texas mother suffered the tragic loss of her son when his vehicle collided with a 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’s Chevrolet 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. The Storm Wranglers team was driving toward the storm. All three men died in the ensuing crash. The suit also alleges 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 filmed by the Storm Wranglers team and live-streamed. 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 the theme of the program itself. She believes that the programming promoted a dangerous enterprise that rewarded recklessness. It was also noted that the station sent both men out without any type of emergency-based driving 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 son’s death. To establish liability in a wrongful death suit, it is vital to determine whose negligent or intentional actions resulted in the death. If there is no evidence that the person being sued bears any liability, the suit will likely to be dismissed with no settlement reached.

Determining liability always starts with an investigation. It 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. As part of his or her own investigation, your attorney will:

  • Comb through all of the facts surrounding the accident.
  • Seek out, meet with, and interview witnesses.
  • Obtain copies of accident reports, autopsy reports, and medical records.
  • Secure any video or photographic evidence of the accident and 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 establishing liability, there are a few things that need to be proven in court:

  • The person 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.
  • There were monetary, physical, or emotional damages suffered.
  • The defendant’s breach of duty was the reason that the damages occurred.

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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