Schlachman, Belsky, Weiner & Davey, P.A.

Baltimore Law Blog

Baltimore Ravens fans are anxiously awaiting the start of the 2012 NFL playoffs, as are fans of teams around the country. While the excitement level on the field is rising, a few franchises have experienced some unwanted drama off the field.

Most recently, a player for the Dallas Cowboys was charged with intoxication manslaughter after a fatal auto accident that claimed the life of a teammate. The player was believed to have been speeding when his vehicle flipped over on the highway and caught fire. When police arrived, the player was pulling his teammate, who was a passenger in the vehicle, out of the burning car.

The player was charged with a second degree felony that could be punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison. However, a cause of action for wrongful death could presumably follow as well, based on the negligence of the player in driving the vehicle when it crashed.

Each state has statutes setting forth the procedure for brining a wrongful death action. Various types of damages may be available in such cases, with damages for pecuniary injury being the primary measure of damages.

In determining pecuniary loss, factors typically considered include the age, character, life expectancy and earning capacity of the person who died. Given the case of the young NFL player who died as discussed above, the pecuniary loss could be substantial. The inquiry can be complicated, however, because it is dependent on the circumstances of each individual case. Accordingly, it is vital to work with a qualified attorney in order to prepare an effective litigation strategy to best obtain relief under the circumstances.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Bond set at $500,000 for Cowboys' Brent in fatal crash," Dec. 9, 2012

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