You might assume that if you're killed in an accident, no one will hold you liable for any damage you or your vehicle might have caused. But a recent court case is blowing that assumption out of the water.
An 18-year-old man who was killed in a horrific train accident is being sued posthumously. In 2008, he was running to catch a train in the pouring rain. The train struck him, severing some of his body parts, which then went flying toward a woman. As a result she broke her wrist and leg. In her court case against the young man's estate, the court found it was "reasonably foreseeable" that the train would kill the man. The woman's lawyer said the lawsuit should be treated like any other negligence case. If a train passenger is injured in an accident after the engineer hit the brakes, the lawyer said, that person would have a solid personal injury case, and that this was no different.
Although the case is highly unusual, it's not the first time a dead person has been sued for causing injury. In 2010 a police officer sued the victim of a fatal shooting, saying that the victim had injured him with his car.
Do lawsuits like these go too far? Although the case of airborne body parts might be a gruesome one, it does make the point that people can be injured by almost anything in an accident, and the cost of treatment and recovery from those injuries can be expensive. Those who balk at the notion of suing an estate for injuries suffered in a fatal accident might find themselves in a similar position. Sometimes you don't know how you'll react to a situation until it comes flying at you.
Source: Huffington Post, "Hiroyuki Joho, Man Killed By Train, Sued After His Flying Body Parts Injured Woman," Dec. 29, 2011