A wrongful death attorney in North Carolina explains
The lawsuits are starting to come in. Weeks after famous actor Alec Baldwin "accidentally" shot and killed a woman on a live movie set, two members of the "Rust" crew have sued Baldwin and other producers for the tragic incident. The family of the camerawoman who died filming in New Mexico is not among them.
Many questions have arisen concerning Baldwin's culpability for the shooting on Oct. 21, 2021. We don't practice law in New Mexico where the incident happened, but if the same situation occurred in North Carolina, we believe the family would have a strong case for a wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death lawsuit is filed in civil court and seeks compensation for the surviving family of a victim who dies by the negligence of another. This verdict or settlement often addresses emergency medical expenses, estimated lifetime financial contribution, and loss of companionship or guidance, among other things.
Baldwin keeps trying to pass off what happened as an "accident." We believe he should stop calling it that.
Be cautious when using the word "accident"
The term "accident" connotes freedom from blame. It gets used in many situations it probably shouldn't. There is a difference between deliberate and reactionary actions. For example, a child will say they had an "accident" when trying to avoid punishment for disobeying their mother's orders and breaking the cookie jar while swiping a treat.
Unfortunately for the child's argument, all of their cookie-taking actions were deliberate. The child deliberately chose to disobey and grab for the jar in direct violation of mom's orders. The child may not have intended for the jar to break, but that doesn't change culpability.
Breaking the jar while sneaking a cookie is a world apart from a true accident — like knocking the jar down during a slip and fall.
The same principles apply with respect to the tragic shooting involving Alec Baldwin.
As we stated earlier, Baldwin's shooting was not an "accident." He chose to pick up the pistol, he chose not to examine the pistol to make sure it was not loaded with live bullets, he chose to point the gun at the victim, and he chose to pull the trigger without knowing whether it was safe to do so.
None of these actions are accidental. They are willful and deliberate. The fact that Baldwin did not intend to kill the victim would not absolve him of civil liability under North Carolina law.
Under these circumstances, and in North Carolina, the victim's family would have a clear case of negligence against Baldwin.
Wrongful death lawsuits
The victim's family should be entitled to compensation for the loss of this young woman's life.
The issue of civil liability against Baldwin and his obligation to reimburse the victim's family for the terrible loss of her life is separate and apart from criminal liability.
If the laws in New Mexico are like they are in North Carolina, Baldwin should also stand trial in criminal court. Baldwin's actions could result in a criminal conviction for negligent homicide arising out of his extremely careless conduct. If he is convicted of criminal charges, that would not put any money in the hands of the victim's family.
No amount of money can replace a loved one. A civil wrongful death lawsuit attempts to make the family whole for their substantial losses and send a message to others that what happened can never happen again.
Legal help is available
It is our hope that the young woman's family has excellent legal representation and those who are responsible for her death answer for their negligence. Brent Adams & Associates is a personal injury law firm serving all of North Carolina that fights to get justice as well as compensation for surviving victims.
If your loved one died in a preventable accident due to the negligence of another, contact us to get a clear understanding of your legal rights and options. Our law firm provides free case consultations and would be honored to talk to you about your potential legal case.