In early September, a San Francisco 49ers fan fell to his death during the team’s opening season game at Candlestick Park. See the story here (http://nbcnews.to/187hf53). The death occurred while the man was walking along a highly elevated walkway. Witnesses say the man appeared to be intoxicated before falling to the sidewalk below.
Assuming the family of this victim sued for wrongful death, would the City of San Francisco and the 49ers football team be found less responsible if the injured party helped create the danger that resulted in his own death?
As always, speaking to a personal injury attorney regarding the specific facts of your case is the first step to creating a plan of action.
The first step in determining the answer depends on whether or not the city and football team owed a duty to the injured party. Was this a spectator? Was this an employee of either party? Was the walkway being used for its intended purposes? The answers to these questions, among others, establish the limits of the legal duty owed.
Next, if there was a duty to the injured party, did his own negligence—or contributory negligence—help create the injury, and if so, to what extent? In the past, courts considered contributory negligence a complete bar to recovering damages, but modern courts in many states, including Missouri, do not.
Contributory negligence may diminish the plaintiff’s overall award but would not completely block recovering damages for lost wages, medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, or the plaintiff’s family’s loss of companionship.
Last, the court would determine what percentage of fault could be attributed to both sides. The facts of this case would determine that allocation of percentages. The judge then applies the percentage to the total amount of damages awarded. So for instance, if the plaintiff is found to be forty percent liable for his injuries through his own negligence, and the total damages equal $100,000, he would only recover $60,000 from the defendant.
If you have questions about a personal injury you have suffered or about the wrongful death of a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.