In early March, aspiring 18-year-old singer Keli May Rutledge died as the result of injuries sustained during a car crash. According to police, the driver of the other vehicle, Emilio Deleon, may have been impaired.
18-Year-Old Aspiring Singer Killed in Car Crash
An aspiring singer, Keli May Rutledge had just won the annual Proof in the Pudding contest sponsored by the Alice Cooper Solid Rock Foundation.
The crash that claimed her life occurred on March 4 at 9:16 am. She was taken to Chandler Regional Medical Center, where she died at 10:35 p.m from injuries sustained during the crash.
According to Lt. Hugh White, “Investigation into impairment is still pending analysis of the evidence and full investigation of the circumstances. “There is evidence to believe impairment may be a factor on the part of Deleon.”
Friends and fans have since reacted to the young singer’s death.
Randy Spencer oversees the Proof is in the Pudding contest. He posted a YouTube clip of Rutledge performing the Tori Kelly song “All in My Head,” writing: “The first time I heard Keli Rutledge sing I was stunned by her gift and talent. Everyone around me at Solid Rock was overwhelmingly impressed by her God-given ability to sing. She was humble, kind, filled with a love for others, had a great, unique laugh and she shined Jesus' love to others. I will greatly miss her and I’m thankful to have known her for a wonderful, brief season.”
Kyle Lenore from Banana Gun wrote, “I just had the privilege a couple weeks ago meeting this lovely talent! I was able to catch her set before we played the Roger Clyne show at Yucca and she was tremendous. She was so excited for the possibilities of putting a band together to further the sound of her music, beautiful soul. So sad, I’m very sorry for this loss.”
Taylor Sackson is a vocal coach at School of Rock AZ East Valley. She described Rutledge as having:
“the voice of an angel and a soul of one too. The first time I heard Rutledge sing was at the Proof is in the Pudding finals, where she definitely won my ballot. I was blown away by her performance, an awe-inspiring version of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ and a heartfelt original, ‘I’m Still Singing.’
… She had big dreams and a voice that made me think she just might pull it off when she told me, ‘My goal is to sign with Sony/ATV Music Publishing or Capitol Records because I really love the quality of musicians that they have, especially Sony/ATV. That’s obviously a very far-fetched goal but I think it could be possible by the end of 2016 if I just keep doing what I’m doing and keep working at it and refusing to give up.'”
Even Sheryl Gail Cooper, Alice Cooper’s wife, had words to add about Rutledge: “Keli was a young woman of great faith. She may have not known what her future held, but she knew Who held her future. Her beautiful voice and vibrant presence will be truly missed.”
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
In drunk driving cases where someone is killed, it’s not unlikely for a family of the deceased to bring a lawsuit against the negligent driver that is responsible. A phoenix wrongful death lawsuit can be brought against someone who has caused another person’s death either through negligence or through intentional harm, and are a variation of a standard personal injury negligence suit. Typically, a “wrongful death” claim is brought by the estate of the deceased on behalf of surviving members and other affected parties. The suit is filed against the party they allege is liable for the death.
Two Forms of Wrongful Death Claim
There are two forms a wrongful death claim can take. Either the charge is negligence, or intention. This means either the victim died as the result of a negligent act of the defendant. Or the victim died as the result of the defendant’s intentions to kill the victim. Some examples of negligence include: victim’s death as a result of medical malpractice, drunk driving, or the victim dies as the result of a faulty engine in the car the victim was riding in. And example of intention is when the defendant is believed to have murdered the victim on purpose.
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim
For the defendant to be declared liable in a wrongful death claim, the claim brought must meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have had to meet if the victim was alive. In the case of a negligence trial, plaintiffs must show the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim, that the defendant breached this duty of care, and that the breach of this duty directly caused the death of the victim.
Jury Rulings on Wrongful Death Cases
A jury ruling on a wrongful death case is typically instructed to award damages to beneficiaries as it deems fair and just. And generally, a beneficiary will recover a monetary award. The amount recovered by a wrongful death is not subject to any debts or liabilities of the deceased, unless the action has been brought on behalf of the deceased’s estate.
Types of Damages
Various types of damages can be recovered in a wrongful death claim. What you file for will be dependent on the circumstances of the case. Here is a list of damages you can claim:
- Punitive Damages
- Loss of love, affection, companionship, care, protection, and guidance since the death and in the future.
- Pain, grief, sorrow, anguish, stress, shock, and mental suffering already experienced, and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future.
- Income and services that have been lost as a result of the death, and that are reasonably probable to be experienced in the future.
- Reasonable expenses of funeral and burial.
- Reasonable expenses of necessary medical care and services for the injury that resulted in the death.
Recovering Legal Damages
In order to legally recover damages in a wrongful death action, there are some general requirements that must be met. They are as follows: (1) The death must have been caused by another’s negligence, i.e., it must be showed that the negligent person was at fault for the death; (2) if the deceased was alive, he or she would have been entitled to recover damages from the at fault party; and (3) the party or beneficiaries must meet the legal requirements to be allowed recovery of damages in the Wrongful Death action.
Note: Wrongful death laws vary from state to state
Not every state follows the same guidelines, principles, or rules. And each state has its own set laws regarding wrongful death. A personal injury attorney can help advise you on if your wrongful death claim is valid and can help you are you pursue a claim against the responsible party or parties.
Working with a Personal Injury Attorney After Your Car Crash
If you or a loved one have been involved in an automobile accident, you should immediately call a personal injury attorney that can help you build your case. They have the experience necessary to ensure you are able to prove your injuries so that you can collect the compensation you are owed.