Venus Williams and her younger sister Serena have been the talk of the professional female tennis world for decades, but now the talk about Venus is veering away from tennis and on to more serious topics. On June 9, 2017, Venus Williams was involved in an automobile accident that eventually caused the death of 78-year-old Jerome Barson. Williams was only going five miles per hour when the Barsons ran into her, but that was enough to cause fatal head injuries to Mr. Barson.
The police report that was filed clearly states that Venus Williams was at fault for the accident. According to witnesses, Williams ran through a red light at a multi-lane intersection just as the Barsons were entering the intersection. The resulting collision totaled the Barson’s vehicle and caused serious damage to Williams’ vehicle as well. Mrs. Barson was hospitalized for multiple broken bones, but Venus Williams walked away from the accident uninjured. The Barson family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Venus Williams.
What Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a personal injury suit filed when the negligence of one party causes the death of another party. The lawsuit is normally filed by the estate or surviving family members of the deceased, and the lawsuit can ask for damages concerning:
- Lost wages if the deceased was the primary source of income for the family
- Loss of companionship for the spouse and any children
- Funeral costs
- Medical costs associated with the accident
Wrongful death lawsuits have been known to result in larger settlements than most other types of personal injury cases. Most people with significant means carry liability insurance to cover these types of potential lawsuits, but Williams’ estimated personal worth of $75 million also makes her the kind of person that plaintiffs look for in a lawsuit like this.
Will Williams Lose This Lawsuit?
Williams claims that she was trapped in the intersection by a red light and was simply trying to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. Aside from the witnesses who say that Williams ran the red light to get into the position she was in, attorneys will also want to know why she had to cause an accident to get out of the intersection. With the police report pinning liability on Williams, she is going to have a hard time convincing a jury that she is not 100 percent at fault in this accident.
How Will This Case Likely End?
Unfortunately, Williams’ financial status makes this case one that will attract a lot of high profile attorneys for the Barsons. This means that both sides will invest in experts to give testimony and accident reconstruction specialists who will try to skew blame for the accident to the other side. These highly paid experts will make this case extremely difficult for both sides, but they are essential in giving the jury the information they need.
However, there is a possibility that a jury may never hear this case. Most personal injury lawsuits in the United States are settled out of court. Venus Williams will want to try and stop the damage done to her reputation by having the Barsons agree to a settlement, and then sign an agreement stating that they will never discuss the case in public.
The first press conference Venus Williams gave after the accident was her preliminary press conference at Wimbledon. At that press conference, Williams showed grief that many people agree was genuine. But when it comes to a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff does not need to show that the defendant purposely caused the death of the victim. All that has to be shown is that the defendant was responsible for the victim’s death for the family to receive compensation. In this case, it appears likely that Venus Williams will be settling for a large amount to put this incident behind her.