Actress Naya Rivera drowned when she tried to help her 5-year-old son Josey Hollis Dorsey into a boat at Lake Piru in South California. The tragic accident occurred in the afternoon when the mother and son took a dip in the water – only to have their unanchored pontoon boat drift away. The current was too strong for Ms. Rivera.
According to a report in Refinery 29, Ms. Rivera’s estate and her ex-husband Ryan Dorsey filed a wrongful death action against:
- Ventura County
- The Parks Management Company
- United Water Conservation District
The two negligence claims
The core negligence claims against the three defendants are that:
- The pontoon boat (which was rented) did not have quality safety equipment. Ms. Rivera rented the boat from Parks Management Company. The complaint claims that the boat didn’t have “a safely accessible ladder, rope, anchor, radio, or security mechanisms to prevent swimmers from being separated from the watercraft.” An investigation of the tragic accident in July 2020 revealed one life jacket in the boat., which the boy was wearing. The complaint claims that the boat didn’t have any other “flotation or lifesaving devices” which violates California safety laws.
- The second claim is based on a failure of the defendants to warn Ms. Rivera (and other boaters) of how dangerous the conditions at Lake Piru are. The wrongful death complaint “alleges the wind was blowing at 21 mph that afternoon, which caused the boat to float away so quickly, and there was no signage giving information or warning about changing currents, water depths, and underwater debris.”
Wrongful death damages in Washington state
In Washington, the personal representative of the estate of the person who dies wrongfully can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of any children. The family of anyone who dies due to the negligence of others is entitled to wrongful death damages. These damages include the following economic and non-economic damages:
- The funeral and burial expenses
- The income and wages the decedent would likely have earned but for the untimely death
- Any pain and suffering of the decedent before death
- The loss of intangible benefits such as care, companionship, and guidance. In the case of a child who loses his mother, these losses are quite substantial.
At Philbrook Law Office, our Vancouver, Washington wrongful death lawyers understand that no amount of money can ever fully compensate for the loss of a relative. Justice demands that those people, businesses, or governmental agencies that caused the death can be held liable, and that they pay the maximum amount of damage the law permits. Our lawyers guide families through these difficult cases. Many wrongful death claims do settle. When necessary, we’re skilled at trying your case before a jury. To discuss your case, please call our offices in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA. You can reach us at 360-205-9615 or fill out our contact form. We handle wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.