Caitlyn, formerly Bruce Jenner has made many headlines over the last several years. The world famous Olympian became even more famous when he was undergoing a gender reassignment surgery. Which since then has captured the public’s imagination. Former Oylmpian even received the public endorsement of the president of the United States. Already a well-known figure, Jenner’s actions have increased “her” profile even further. This is one of the reasons why the February car crash that killed the driver of another car had such a high profile. There has been sort of a back and forth lately over whether or not criminal charges are likely or not likely.
Background of the Bruce Jenner Car Accident
In the accident, Jenner was driving a Cadillac Escalade that hit a Lexus driven by Kim Howe. The Lexus then hit by a Hummer. Ms. Howe died of her injuries. Her family under suit for $18.5 million by those inside the Hummer.
They allege that the wrongful death occurred due to negligent driving, as reported by the UK Independent. Allegations were swirling about on some of the news stations. That Jenner was undergoing hormone therapy in order to try and become more female like. Alluding to the fact that these hormones could have affected his mental state, and judgment negatively, leading to the crash.
Now NBC News is reporting that Jenner may also face a criminal case over the accident. She may face a manslaughter charge if deemed by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. TMZ is saying no way:
…sources connected to the office tell TMZ the initial sentiment is that the collision was a tragic accident but not criminal. (Source.)
Assuming TMZ is not wrong. It would appear that prosecutors have finished studying various factors. Including the use of mind altering drugs such as pain medicine, alcohol, the various speeds and locations of the vehicles involved. This includes Jenner’s and Howe’s vehicles at the time of the crash. A defense attorney interviewed by NBC News also said that he believed that any charges are unlikely. However, as California’s manslaughter statute reads. If Jenner was then believed to be criminally negligent, charges filed could become a reality. In cases like this, a wrongful death claim is almost certain to be then pursued by any survivor with standing. If convicted of a crime, Jenner may face consequences anywhere from a fine to a year in jail.
Implications of Jenner’s Criminal Conviction in a Future Civil Case
If charges become filed and Jenner’s found guilty, the implications in any civil suit could be tremendous. Since criminal negligence would become established in court as part of the criminal case, it would be much easier to do so in a civil case. The civil burden of proof regarding such negligent driving is significantly lower than in criminal cases. A criminal conviction would not only cost Jenner in a court of law, but likely result in a payout to Ms. Howe’s immediate family.
All of this illustrates the sometimes fine line between criminal and civil courts. Due to criminal cases needing to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There are often civil cases that piggyback on such charges after a wrongful death or injury. Jenner may be able to escape both in the end. But in the meantime the star will need to work closely with her lawyers to avoid jail time or a significant settlement.
Such a reality is also important for car accident victims on both sides should strongly consider. Those that could become found responsible for an accident should immediately contact an attorney specialized in car accidents. For them to determine the exact cause of the accident and how best to proceed. Anyone injured in such a manner should ensure that they are properly covered legally to avoid confusion. In a civil case, or any other negative repercussions. Of course, if the leaks are true and TMZ has it right. The scales against criminal’s have tipped against collateral estoppel or res judicata. Yet are still no bar to any recovery in a civil case for wrongful death.
In fact, negligence in a civil case requires a preponderance of the evidence standard. Which is lower than for a criminal action, and quoted below:
Civil Negligence Preponderance
[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she] became harmed by [name of defendant]’s negligence. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:
1. That [name of defendant] believed negligent;
2. That [name of plaintiff] suffered harm; and
3. That [name of defendant]’s negligence’s a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]’s harm. (CACI 400)
So the bottom line is, it is probably game on for a wrongful death lawsuit for the Olympian turned woman. We will follow the case and report on any developments as the arise.
http://injury.findlaw.com/torts-and-personal-injuries/wrongful-death-overview.html Wrongful Death Overview – FindLaw