Ex Olympic decathlon star and TV personality Bruce Jenner, 65, was involved in a serious car crash on February 7, 2015 on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, CA. In the accident, 69 year old widow Kim Howe was killed, and five others were injured. The accident occurred when Jenner, who was driving a Cadillac Escalade at approximately 46 miles per hour while towing an ATV vehicle, rear ended a Lexus slowing for a traffic light operated by Ms. Howe, which caused her vehicle to cross over into the opposing lanes of travel, where it was struck by a Hummer. Part of the accident was captured on video from a California MTA bus’ rear camera.
Although reports are that Jenner will not be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter, his troubles are far from over in this tragic accident. He may have been distracted by cell phone usage, and worse, the evidence shows that Jenner was following too closely, leaving him almost no time to brake to avoid the horrible collision. The traffic infraction of following too closely will provide an evidentiary basis for a wrongful death lawsuit by Ms. Howe’s family, and personal injury lawsuits by the other five occupants of the vehicles involved in the crash, which also include a Prius that Jenner reportedly struck as well.
Jenner’s troubles begin with the fact that he reportedly has a meager $250,000 in liability insurance coverage. Clearly, with assets which are undoubtedly in the millions, this amount of coverage is insufficient to protect those assets. If Jenner owns homes, (unless some of these properties are jointly owned with his ex-wife Kris Jenner), vehicles (including the Escalade he was in at the time of the fatal accident), stocks, bonds, bank accounts or other liquid assets, these could all be at risk if Jenner was not also protected by an umbrella or other “excess” coverage” above the reported $250,000 policy.
Ms. Howe’s family can sue for any provable pain and suffering that she endured (which would be proven by witness accounts, and hospital or medical records) as well as her wrongful death. Even a gasp or a brief moan, heard by witnesses, could add a substantial amount of pain and suffering damages to the claim. If Ms. Howe were paying any monies to family members on a regular basis, such as to children or grandchildren, the loss of these payments could be another element of damages. Certainly, Jenner’s biggest concern is the claims by Ms. Howe’s family; it is unclear what the specific injuries are that were suffered by the others involved in the accident.
If I were Jenner’s insurance broker, I would also be very worried about what is known as an “E and O” claim, meaning an “Errors and Omissions” claim. How could someone with that much to lose have only $250,000 in coverage? The broker has a “fiduciary duty” to advise the client to have the necessary coverage to protect his assets, and if the broker is proven to have failed in this obligation, that broker could be looking at very serious liability as well, and might be required to “indemnify” or in essence pay some of the claims of these plaintiffs if the broker is sued on an Errors and Omissions action by Jenner’s attorneys. On the other hand, if Jenner voluntarily chose to reduce his premiums by obtaining inadequate insurance coverage, and was warned of the risks by his insurance representatives, there would probably not be an E and O claim.
We will follow all developments in this rapidly evolving situation, which is still under investigation and in the early stages. Clearly, Mr. Jenner is quite concerned as to his criminal and civil liability, and has retained a criminal attorney to protect his interests.
If you or a family member have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, slip and fall, construction accident, or a bus, truck or motorcycle crash, contact the Westchester County Personal Injury Lawyers at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free consultation with an experienced, dedicated and knowledgeable trial attorney to discuss your case in detail.