Reports of what happened are conflicting, but authorities have opined Jenner was the third in line of three vehicles along the highway when the first, a Prius, stopped suddenly, some 300 feet from a traffic signal. The driver of a Lexus behind the Prius hit the brakes in response. Jenner, who was operating a sport utility vehicle behind the Lexus, struck the Lexus from behind, causing the Lexus to slam into the vehicle ahead and also careen into oncoming traffic. When the Lexus entered the opposing lane, it was struck head-on by another vehicle. The 69-year-old driver of the Lexus was killed, and several occupants of the oncoming car now say they sustained serious injuries.
In the third lawsuit filed against Jenner as a result of the crash, plaintiffs allege Jenner is liable to pay damages after the Lexus struck their vehicle, causing injury to husband, wife, wife’s mother and two minor children – including an infant who was just 1-month-old at the time of the crash. Husband, a Grammy-award winning composer, alleged in the lawsuit the baby was unresponsive immediately following the crash. Additionally, wife sustained serious blunt-force injuries and has required ongoing treatment. Finally, the emotional impact of being involved in collision so violent it claims the life of another has resulted in immense pain and suffering for the family, the lawsuit asserts.
Months ago, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Jenner by the stepchildren of the decedent Lexus driver. Jenner has filed a motion to have that claim dismissed, asserting plaintiffs, ages 57 and 60, lack standing to bring the case because they were not financially dependent on decedent for life necessities. Further, Jenner, 65, asserts their family connection to victim doesn’t give them the right to sue for wrongful death (state laws are very specific on who can file). Then, the driver of the Prius filed a personal injury lawsuit against Jenner, requesting compensatory damages in excess of $25,000 for medical bills, lost wages and earning capacity, as well as compensatory damages.
Jenner was never charged criminally in the case, and investigators have concluded she was driving below the speed limit and even “minimally slower” than Lexus driver was.
This case is complicated for a number of reasons. First, there is generally a rear-end rebuttable presumption of negligence. That is, it’s assumed that the driver who struck others from the rear is negligent, unless it can be shown otherwise. But evidence and witness statements here suggest that assumption may be rebutted if it can be shown the Prius driver acted with negligence in initiating a sudden stop. At one point, investigators were considering whether Prius driver was attempting to initiate an illegal U-turn, which set off this chain of events. Prius driver was not cited.
Even if it could be shown the Prius driver did bear some responsibility, it could be possible for Jenner to be held liable also. Many car accident lawsuits name multiple defendants. Under the doctrine of joint and several liability, any single defendant could be liable to pay the entire damage award, even if he or she only shares a percentage of fault. Both North Carolina and South Carolina abide this doctrine, though in South Carolina, only several liability is enforced unless defendant shares more than half the fault.
Also unique in this case is the prominence and wealth of defendant Jenner, who in addition to athletic accomplishments has gained notoriety in recent years on the show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” She has also been in the spotlight for a highly-publicized gender transition from man to woman. The crash happened just prior to that transition.
In many injury lawsuits, insurance companies are only going to pay out the policy limits. That leaves injury victims with a few options, one of those being pursuing a finding of liability against the defendant personally. In some cases, this isn’t worth the pursuit because defendant has no assets. Here, defendant has ample assets, making recovery of damages more likely.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Caitlyn Jenner Sued by Family Involved in Crash, Dec. 5, 2015, Associated Press
More Blog Entries:
Not Afraid v. Mumford – Highway Design Liability for Auto Accident Injuries, Dec. 1, 2015, Rock Hill Car Accident Lawyer Blog