May 23rd 2017 by PollackSteinberg LLP in Blog

Wrongful death cases can make national news, set precedents

Like most states,  Pennsylvania and New Jersey recognize wrongful death lawsuits filed in civil court. A wrongful death claim typically stems when someone is killed due to the misconduct or negligence of another person or corporation. The surviving member’s of a victim’s family or the estate file wrongful death lawsuits to seek damages for the loss, often after a criminal trial has ended — especially if a jury acquits.

Some wrongful death cases are high-profile enough to make national news. In September, the family of Texan Sandra Bland reached a $1.9 million wrongful death settlement with Texas authorities. Bland was arrested earlier this year after a traffic stop and was later found dead in her jail cell, news reports have said.

In the early 1970s, Ford Motor Company launched the Pinto as the latest, greatest compact car. The vehicle was a hit, but became broiled in controversy after steps taken to save weight and length led to accidents and deaths. There was virtually no gas tank cover, making it likely to puncture and explode if struck by another car. In all, there were 27 deaths tied to the Pinto, according to news reports. Most were killed by gas tank fires.

In 1972, a California woman was traveling in a Pinto with a 13-year-old boy when the car was struck by another car. The Pinto burst into flames, killing the woman and injuring the boy. A civil jury awarded both families millions in compensatory and punitive damages. The court found that Ford knew about the potential dangers of the car because of its design and manufacturing, but put it on the consumer market anyway. The company eventually recalled the Pinto, and production stopped permanently.

One wrongful death lawsuit isn’t just famous — it’s as infamous as the criminal case tied to it. In 1998, a civil jury found O.J. Simpson liable for the wrongful deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The jury ordered Simpson to pay $33.5 million to the victim’s families. A criminal jury had acquitted the former football star on murder charges in October 1996.

During the civil trial, the families’ attorneys showed how Simpson could pull in $25 million in future earnings. Simpson was later sentenced to prison on an unrelated charge.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by another person’s negligence or vehicle malfunction, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking compensation. At The Fighting for People Injury Law Group of PollackSteinberg LLP, our experienced Pennsylvania and New Jersey personal injury attorneys will review your claims for free and help you hold negligent drivers and companies responsible for their actions.

To schedule your free, no-risk consultation, contact our office today by calling 800-549-4LAW (4529).


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