Jenner has been under increasing scrutiny in the Feb. 7 crash ever since a video surfaced that appears to show him initiating the chain car accident.
Kim Howe, 69, was killed when Jenner’s SUV slammed into the back of her Lexus and pushed her into oncoming traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway.
But barring a finding of gross negligence or a felony manslaughter charge, his exposure in the accident will likely be limited to his insurance coverage.
Jenner was not found to be speeding, drunk or texting when the fatal crash occurred, according to gossip site TMZ.
The impetus for the “financial ruin” report, which is being copied and repeated by media outlets that should know better, is a claim that his auto insurance has a $250,000 personal injury limit. That’s a standard amount, usually minimally required, by the state.
If he’s sued by Howe’s survivors, a jury could conceivably award a multi-million dollar judgment that would trigger his financial ruin, according to radaronline, the sketchy gossip site known for its sensational reporting.
But it doesn’t work that way. The overwhelming majority of wrongful death lawsuits are settled out of court, usually for amounts that are far less than the maximum potential jury recovery.
Jenner would also be able to tap his homeowner’s insurance, which typically covers legal judgments that may threaten continued ownership of the property. He may also have other insurance through his work.
He probably also has most of his liquid assets locked up in trusts or retirement accounts that would be untouchable in a legal dispute, a la O.J Simpson.
If the case were to go to trial and Jenner was socked with a huge judgment, he would likely appeal the award. In the overwhelming majority of cases, large jury judgments are reduced by appeals court judges.
Another factor that would determine Jenner’s civil liability would be the victim’s age and the number of people who depend on her for support. If she had been a young mother of five children, for example, his exposure would be greater.
Howe, a widow, lived alone in a $2.5 million house.
Although it may sound morbid, the legal system has a process for valuing an individual’s life. And, not all lives are valued the same.
California also has a “comparative fault” law covering traffic accidents, and the driver of the vehicle that slammed head-on into Howe’s car could also share some of the blame.
Even Howe may share some of the blame for stopping abruptly. Jenner has claimed that he could not avoid the collision. Other mitigating factors may be involved. Was she wearing a seatbelt? Did her car airbags fail to deploy? If so, Lexus could be on the hook.
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