Two years ago, actor Paul Walker was killed in a car accident when the Porsche he was riding in as a passenger crashed on a California road. According to one national news source following the lawsuit filed by Walker’s daughter, Porsche recently filed a request with the court to dismiss the case against the company, arguing that Walker’s death was his own fault for getting into the car on the day of the accident.
Evidently, the filing claimed that Walker’s death was the result of his own “comparative fault,” since he knew and assumed the risks involved with getting into the car. The filing claimed that Walker “knowingly and voluntarily assumed all risk, perils, and danger” involved with riding as a passenger in the vehicle, and the vehicle he was riding in was “abused and altered” and improperly maintained. Porsche claims that Walker was aware of these facts when he got into the passenger seat that day, and by doing so he knew the risks involved.
A representative for Walker’s daughter told reporters that Walker was a “passenger in a car that was not designed to protect its occupants, in a crash on a dry, empty straightaway in broad daylight and at speeds well below the vehicle’s advertised capabilities.” He also claimed that, had the car been manufactured with the proper safety features, Walker would likely still be alive today.
Comparative Fault and Assumption of the Risk
Porsche’s filing earlier this month mentioned two separate legal theories in an effort to get the case against it dismissed: “Comparative Fault” and “Assumption of the Risk.” Each of these can be a defense to a lawsuit in certain situations.
Comparative fault is a legal doctrine that allows for the plaintiff to recover from the defendant only up to the defendant’s percentage of fault. Practically speaking, this means that the judge or jury will determine each party’s percentage of fault as well as the total amount of damages the plaintiff is owed. Then, the court will reduce the plaintiff’s award amount by their percentage of fault. Comparative fault may act to bar a lawsuit if the plaintiff is more than 50% or 51% at fault, depending on the jurisdiction. Maryland does not follow the comparative fault doctrine but instead uses the stricter doctrine of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence bars a plaintiff from recovering damages if they are found to be at all at fault.
Assumption of the risk is another related legal doctrine that can completely excuse a defendant if they can show that the plaintiff knew the risks involved in a dangerous activity but chose to engage in it nonetheless. This doctrine rarely applies in Maryland auto accident cases, and it is more often applied in the context of slip-and-fall cases.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a serious Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, it is very important to keep in mind the strict rules in Maryland regarding which accident victims can recover. If a defendant is able to show that you or your loved one were even just 5% at fault, they may be able to escape liability entirely. To make sure that you understand what will be expected of you in your case, call 410-654-3600 to speak with an attorney. Calling is free and will not result in any cost to you unless we are able to ultimately help you recover financial compensation.
More Blog Posts:
State Supreme Court Reverses Plaintiff’s Award for Punitive Damages, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published October 7, 2015.
Driver in Tragic Oklahoma Parade Accident May Have Been Acting Intentionally, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published November 3, 2015.