Paul Walker's Death in Single-Car Crash Raises Legal Questions

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on December 02, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Fans are grieving the untimely death of "Fast & Furious" actor Paul Walker. The 40-year-old star died in a fiery crash on Saturday. The actor, who was known for his philanthropic efforts, was en route to an event for his charity, Reach Out Worldwide, to help survivors of victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Sadly, the self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie ultimately succumbed to his need for speed.

Single-Car Crash

Walker was in the passenger seat of a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, driven by a racing team partner, that slammed into a utility pole and burst into flames in the city of Santa Clarita, reports CNN.

To the surprise of many, the circumstances of Walker's single-car crash are actually not uncommon. Nationally, single-car crashes account for 65% of all fatal car accidents, according to The Washington Post.

They often result from unbelted driving, speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, drowsy driving, over-correction of the car, and, paradoxically, trying to avoid a crash.

Too Fast, Too Furious

Most devastating of all, the vast majority of single-car accidents are within the driver's ability to avoid, reports The Post. In Walker's case, the key was to slow down.

Speed was a factor in the crash, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office said. Though the investigation is still ongoing, a 45 mph speed limit sign was attached to the light pole knocked down by the Porsche, reports CNN.

Sticking to the speed limit was particularly important for handling the Porsche. The car, which sold for $450,000 when new, is a notoriously difficult vehicle to handle, even for professional drivers, according to Autoweek. A top driver called its handling "scary," the magazine reports. It is powered by a V-10, 610-hp engine.

Wrongful Death

The driver, Roger Rodas, also died. But if Rodas was at fault for the crash, Walker's family -- including his 15-year-old daughter -- may be able to pursue a wrongful death case against Rodas' estate.

In order to prevail, Walker's family would have to demonstrate how the actor's death is causing them financial injury. That shouldn't be too hard to prove. At the time of his death, Walker was working on the seventh film of the "Fast & Furious" franchise, due out next year, reports CNN.

In this period of mourning, Walker fans should consider celebrating the uniquely generous actor's life by making a donation to Reach Out Worldwide.

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