On the 27th of January 2020, the world was shocked to learn of the sudden death of the globally renowned basketball legend Kobe Bryant. At age 41, Kobe perished in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Giana Bryant. His widow Vanessa Bryant has recently filed a Wrongful Death lawsuit. What does it mean to file a wrongful death lawsuit, and what’s going to happen?
A wrongful death occurs where someone loses their life due to someone else’s fault or negligence. For example, if a driver runs a red light and kills a pedestrian, he/she can and should be sued for the wrongful death of the pedestrian.
In the lawsuit, Vanessa Bryant alleges that the helicopter pilot was negligent, and this negligence led to Kobe’s death. The cause of the crash is still unclear. Conflicting reports indicate that the weather at the time of the crash was unfit for flying. It is not yet clear on who authorized the helicopter’s captain Ara George Zobayan to take off from the John Wayne Airport.
The main Defendant in this lawsuit would be the helicopter company or any other employer of the pilot on the day of the crash. In California, Texas and the rest of the United States, employers are responsible for the negligence of their employees, as long as the employees are acting within the scope of their employment. As the pilot’s job was to fly passengers like Kobe Bryant to their destination, the pilot likely was acting within the scope of his employment.
Many companies carry liability insurance for exactly this type of occurrence. This liability insurer would step in on behalf of the helicopter company to defend the lawsuit.
The insurer, on behalf of the Defendant helicopter company, will likely attempt to resolve the claim without the use of the court system. However, it is common for the parties to disagree on the amount of damages in the case. In other words: what is the dollar value of Kobe Bryant’s life from the date of the crash? Since this answer requires both objective and subjective factors, the parties will come to different conclusions.
There are a number of separate damage categories that Kobe’s widow and family may be compensated for. Here is a closer look at some of the major damages:
Some damages can be easily calculated. They include funeral expenses and medical bills. However, the greatest category of damages will be based on Kobe’s projected future income:
Kobe Bryant was not only a legend on the court, but he was also a business mogul. According to some sources, Kobe had amassed wealth of about $600 million dollars by the time of his death. Much of this wealth comes from brand endorsements and business investments.
Because his life was cut short, Kobe will not be earning the income that he otherwise would have earned. This income that has been lost, and will be one of the largest damage items for the basis of the lawsuit. Vanessa Bryant’s attorney will need to prove (through expert economists) how much income Kobe would have earned had he not passed away.
Kobe had a wife and four daughters on the day of his death, including one who passed away with him in the crash. His daughters lost a lifetime of parental care, love, and support. Although this does not seem easily quantifiable in dollar figures, the party responsible will pay a reasonable amount determined by the judge or jury.
Wrongful deaths don’t just occur with helicopter crashes. There are many instances that can lead to a wrongful death. Most commonly, they occur with car accidents. If your loved one has been a victim of someone else’s negligence, contact our attorneys at Lone Star Injury Attorneys for a free consultation to answer your questions about wrongful death.