A family from North Carolina has filed a lawsuit against a resort in California. The family claims the resort manager played a role in the death of their daughter when he provided copious amounts of alcohol. The daughters, ages 18 and 21 at the time, were at the resort celebrating the younger daughter’s high school graduation. After providing the alcohol, the resort manager allegedly encouraged the sisters to take his Porsche for a test ride. Witnesses state he even buckled the driver in, adjusting her seat before she left.
Shortly after leaving, the vehicle crashed. An emergency response team pronounced one sister dead at the scene, the other suffered serious injuries including a broken pelvis and brain bleed.
The family argues that the resort manager’s predatory behavior played a role in the death of their daughter. They state he had a reputation for luring young women to the resort, providing excessive alcohol and then taking advantage of them when they were vulnerable. As a result, they state the manager and the hotel, who they argue were aware of the manager’s behavior, should bear some responsibility for the death of their daughter.
In these cases, a wrongful death claim is the appropriate legal tool. Wrongful death is a type of a civil claim, allowing the family to hold to the responsible party accountable for their wrongdoing. These claims are available when another individual or business’ negligence or misconduct contributes to the death of another. Most state laws require two elements to establish a successful wrongful death claim. First, that someone died. Second, that another was negligent or was acting with the intent to cause harm. The family and loved ones can use various pieces of evidence to establish this claim, such as testimony from witnesses.
In North Carolina, a successful wrongful death claim can lead to compensation to cover hospitalization and emergency response team expenses, pain and suffering, reasonable funeral expenses as well as awards to supplement the reasonable expectation of compensation. In some cases, punitive awards are also available. A court or jury may grant these as a means of additional punishment in especially egregious cases.
The case above is not yet resolved. The manager was terminated from his position shortly after the accident and, at the time of this publication, was believed to have fled to Mexico. The family is pursuing the case. Regardless of the outcome of this specific case, the lessons are the same for those in similar situations.
Those who find themselves facing similar devastating circumstances can move forward with a claim. The claim can serve three purposes. First, it can lead to financial compensation to help cover the expenses that result from the accident and attempt to make the victim’s loved one whole again. Second, it can hold the responsible party accountable for their wrongdoing. Third, the case will serve to deter others from similar actions.