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Earlier this year, Bruce Jenner allegedly caused a chain reaction car crash that damaged several cars and killed one woman.
While reports on what happened vary, Jenner, driving on Pacific Coast Highway, allegedly hit the back of a Prius which then hit the Lexus in front of it. The Lexus swerved into oncoming traffic where it hit a Hummer head on. The driver of the Lexus, Kim Howe, was killed. At the time of the accident, there was some suspicion that Jenner may have been texting while driving or speeding. However, he has not been charged with any crime in connection with the accident.
Howe, who lived alone, was thought to have no living relatives at the time of her death. Police even had a hard time finding her next of kin, Now the woman's stepchildren, have appeared and are suing Jenner for wrongful death and "loss of love, affection, support, comfort, society, financial support" from their stepmother.
Every state has its own civil wrongful death statutes. The specific provisions may vary, but, generally, wrongful death is a civil lawsuit brought by the survivors of a decedent killed by the defendant's negligent, reckless, or intentional action. The survivors are seeking monetary damages including loss of support, services, inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses.
Unlike a criminal case where the jury must find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, juries in a wrongful death case only need to find the defendant was responsible by a preponderance of the evidence, a lower standard.
Reports claim that Howe's children had "virtually no relationship with Howe around the time of her death." If this is true, it may lower the amount of the damages, if any, they will receive in a successful claim.
Damages for a wrongful death claim are calculated by considering the amount of financial support and parental guidance the decedent gave to the plaintiff. If the plaintiffs were not receiving any support or guidance from Howe before her death, then they may be found to be unharmed or less harmed by her death.
Loss of Parental Consortium
Howe's stepchildren also claim damages for "loss of love, affection, support," also known as loss of consortium. Traditionally, this claim was brought by a decedent's spouse. Most states, including California, do not recognize a child's right to claim loss of parental consortium. So, the step children may be out of luck here.
Unless the step children can show that they significantly relied on Howe for support and guidance, and of course, that he was the actual cause of her death, they may not be able to win any money from Jenner.