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Paul Walker’s Daughter Files Wrongful Death Suit Against Porsche Cars North America

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Meadow Rain, the 16 year-old daughter of actor, Paul Walker, against Porsche Cars North America, seeking compensatory damages. Walker, known for his role as Brian O’Connor in the Fast and Furious movie franchise, was killed while riding in the passenger seat of a Porsche Carrera GT on November 30, 2013.

The suit claims that the Porsche Carrera GT is a race car and does not belong on the street. An attorney for the Plaintiff stated the car lacked adequate safety features found on well-designed race cars, as well as Porsche’s less-expensive road cars. According to CNN, Porsche North America’s response claims the car Walker was riding in “was abused and altered after being placed into the stream of commerce in a manner that was not reasonably foreseeable to (Porsche Cars North America).”

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s investigation reported excessive speed as the cause of the double fatality, estimating speeds between 80 and 93 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. The Porsche struck a power pole and several trees before bursting into flames.

Had this accident occurred in Florida Meadow Rain, a minor child would also have a cause of action for the loss of her father under Florida’s Wrongful Death Statute.

Florida’s Wrongful Death Statute found at F.S. §768.16 through §768.26 is controlling in all wrongful death causes in the State of Florida. In Florida a “surviving” minor child does have a right to recover damages for the loss of his or her parent(s).

F.S. §768.18 defines “survivors” as the decendent’s spouse, children, parents, and, when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters. It includes the child born out of wedlock of a mother, but not the child born out of wedlock of the father unless the father has recognized a responsibility for the child’s support. In addition it defines “Minor children” as “children under 25 years of age, notwithstanding the age of majority.”

F.S. §768.21 details the damages that surviving minor children are entitled to recover as follows:

Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value. In evaluating loss of support and services, the survivor’s relationship to the decedent, the amount of the decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor, and the replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor may be considered. In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children, may be considered.

Minor children of the decedent, and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, may also recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. For the purposes of this subsection, if both spouses die within 30 days of one another as a result of the same wrongful act or series of acts arising out of the same incident, each spouse is considered to have been predeceased by the other.

F.S. §768.18 provides us with the following definitions of the damages detailed under the wrongful death statute:

“Loss of Support” which includes contributions in kind as well as money.

“Loss of Services” which means tasks, usually of a household nature, regularly performed by the decedent that will be a necessary expense to the survivors of the decedent. These services may vary according to the identity of the decedent and survivor and shall be determined under the particular facts of each case.

“Net accumulations” means the part of the decedent’s expected net business or salary income, including pension benefits, that the decedent probably would have retained as savings and left as part of her or his estate if the decedent had lived her or his normal life expectancy. “Net business or salary income” is the part of the decedent’s probable gross income after taxes, excluding income from investments continuing beyond death, that remains after deducting the decedent’s personal expenses and support of survivors, excluding contributions in kind.

Author: James D. Payer, Attorney at Law

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