Tennis Star Venus Williams has been named as the Defendant in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit which arose out of a June 9 car accident that killed 78 year old Jerome Barson and injured his wife Linda.

The collision occurred near Venus’ home  in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

According to Police, Venus was making a left hand turn into a gated community at a traffic light and the light was red at the time she made the turn.

Witnesses confirmed that Venus ran the red light while turning left.

Venus’ story to police was that she entered the intersection on a green light but then was caught in the middle of the intersection.  Venus was trying to clear the intersection and did not see the Barson’s car approaching when she made the left turn.

According to Linda Barson, who was driving the other vehicle, she was approaching the intersection and the light turned green.  When she noticed Venus was making a left in front of her, she was unable to avoid the collision.

Fortunately for Venus, there was no evidence of cell phone, drug or alcohol use.

Who Violated Traffic Rules?

In terms of who will ultimately be found liable for causing this car accident, there are three traffic rules in play.

First, the traffic rules require  cars to stop at red lights.  If the light was, in fact, red, then Venus violated the rule by making a left turn on a red light.  Clearly such action was dangerous because oncoming traffic would have a green light making a collision likely.

Second, the traffic rules require cars making left hand turns to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic and wait to make the turn until there are no vehicles so close as to constitute a hazard.  Again, it appears that Venus violated that rule.  The Barson vehicle was approaching and Venus should have given it the right-of-way and not turned left in front of it.

Third, the traffic rules require cars to obey the speed limit.  According to the Wrongful Death lawsuit, there was massive damage to both vehicles.  Mr. Barson was killed and Mrs. Barson sustained significant injuries.  This raises the question of  the speed of the Barson vehicle.  Mrs. Barson had a responsibility to drive within the speed limit.  If she was speeding, then that could have been a contributing cause of the accident.

Ultimately, if the Wrongful Death lawsuit goes to a trial it will be up to the jury to decide who was at fault for causing the collision.  It is likely that the drivers will testify, as will the eye witnesses and the Police officers.   In addition, both Venus’ lawyers and the lawyers for the Barsons could have crash reconstruction experts study the evidence and testify regarding who was responsible for causing the crash.

What Will Happen in the Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Because it appears fairly clear that Venus was at fault for causing this collision and, by all reports is devastated that she made a mistake that took someone’s life, this is likely a case that will be settled out-of-court rather that tried in front of a jury.

Car accident and Wrongful Death lawsuits resolve one of two ways, with an agreed upon settlement or a verdict in court.

In this case, with Venus being a high profile and wealthy professional athlete, I would expect her to have protected herself ahead of time with significant insurance coverage.  Car insurance will protect Venus from her liability to pay compensation to Mrs. Barson for her injuries and to Mr. Barson’s family for his Wrongful Death.  I would also expect Venus to have an Umbrella Policy protecting her assets well above the liability limits of her car insurance.

(As an aside, as a Personal Injury Lawyer, I always recommend that everyone have liability insurance on their car of at least $250,000 and an Umbrella Policy of at least $1 million to protect their assets if they cause a serious car accident like this one.)

In Venus’ case, I would expect that her personal lawyers will pressure her insurance company lawyers to settle the case out-of-court and to insist on a confidentiality provision in the settlement to protect her privacy.

About the Author – Tim Rayne is a Pennsylvania Personal Injury and Car Accident Lawyer who regularly handles Car Accident Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits.  For over 20 years, Tim has been helping injured victims of Car Accidents and their families receive fair treatment from insurance companies.  Tim has offices in Kennett Square and West Chester, Pennsylvania.  Contact Tim at [email protected] or 6108400124.  

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