Yamaha Rhinos have been involved in the deaths of at least five people, most of whom were children crushed beneath the Yamaha Rhino in a rollover accident. The involvement of a Yamaha Rhino in a wrongful death is one circumstance where legal action against the company is advisable.
The legal doctrine of wrongful death was created in order to fix a hole in the civil legal system. Under ordinary rules, a person can file a suit to seek compensation for an injury or harm they have suffered – but someone who has died cannot bring suit. This left the civil law in the odd position of providing greater protection against injury than against death. Wrongful death statutes vary from state to state, but in general provide the ability for the heirs or next of kin of someone who has been killed to sue the person or persons responsible for the death.
In the case of a defective product, the law permits heirs and next of kin to file a claim against the manufacturer of the product. Such an action is known as a “wrongful death claim”, and is adjudicated according to the statutes in force in the state where the suit is filed (almost always, either in the state where the accident occurred, or the state in which the manufacturer is headquartered or does significant business).
Every state has its own laws about wrongful death, and the wrongful death statute in the state that has jurisdiction over your lawsuit will be the controlling law for the case. Every US state allows for a wrongful death claim for the recovery of any lost income from the person killed; for example, the expected future income of a father who has been providing for his family. Most states do not allow a suit for emotional distress such as grief or anger suffered by the survivors, but you can file suit for the value of services, advice, comfort, care, and companionship that the victim would have otherwise provided. A few states allow for damages for the pain and suffering experienced by the victim before they died. An experienced litigator will be able to help you understand the specifics of your state’s laws.
In the case of a wrongful death resulting from the use or operation of a Yamaha Rhino, it will be very important to establish the culpability of Yamaha in the individual’s death. Wrongful death suits require the claimant to demonstrate that the defendant was solely or substantially culpable for the death. This does not mean that you would have to prove that Yamaha set out to kill or hurt your loved one; negligence or liability for the death is sufficient. Again, an expert attorney will provide you with the best chance of establishing this in court, and receiving the damages which are owed in the case of a Yamaha Rhino wrongful death.
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