In June 2017, the world was rocked with the news of a deadly car crash involving tennis star Venus Williams. Renowned in the sports world for her professionalism and tennis prowess, the car accident that caused injuries that led to the death of 78-year-old Jerome Barson showed spectators that anyone can be a victim or party involved in a fatal accident.
Williams has since been hit with a lawsuit from the crash, amid her participation in the Wimbledon world tennis championships. As of July 26, 2017, the Williams law team had responded to a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Williams by Barson’s family with a countersuit. Here’s what we know about the accident and what you can learn from it.
How the Crash Happened
According to a police report released after the accident, Williams collided with the vehicle driven by Linda Barson, wife to passenger Jerome, on June 9 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The police report records that Williams claimed she was in the median of an intersection because of other traffic and did not see Barson’s car approaching via a green light when she crossed the intersection. Driving at 5 miles per hour, Williams collided with Barson, causing damage to both vehicles and injuries to both Linda and Jerome Barson, who were both hospitalized as a result of the accident.
The report stated that Williams was at fault for violating the right of way of the Barson vehicle in the four-way intersection, though there is no mention of Williams being cited for the accident or receiving any traffic violations. According to a statement by Williams’ attorney to CNN, Williams entered the intersection on a green light when Barson crashed into her vehicle. On July 7, a new report issued by police stated that after reviewing security footage of the crash, the original statement that Williams was at fault was rescinded. The new statement said Williams legally entered the intersection on a green light and was subsequently struck by Barson’s vehicle.
Damage to the Barson vehicle included shattered front and back windows, damage to the back rear side and airbag deployment, while the lawsuit also states Williams’ car was damaged. The lawsuit filed by the Barson family alleges negligence against Williams and insists there was no way for Linda to avoid colliding with the Williams vehicle, which cut in front of the Barson vehicle. Injuries sustained by Linda, as mentioned in the lawsuit, included a cracked sternum, a shattered right arm, and a broken right hand, wrist and fingers. The lawsuit states Jerome experienced internal bleeding, organ damage and a fractured spine among other injuries, and died in the hospital on June 22 after undergoing multiple surgeries.
On July 26, Williams filed a countersuit against the Barson lawsuit, claiming Jerome was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. The Williams lawsuit also states the Barson vehicle was not maintained up to legal standards. The lawsuit states because Jerome failed to wear a seatbelt that could have prevented injuries, those factors should be barred or removed from the Barson lawsuit.
The Barson family responded with statements that both Linda and Jerome were wearing seatbelts and that their vehicle was in perfect working condition. The Barson family has also requested phone records from Williams to determine if she was distracted by talking or texting at the time of the crash. Williams has not yet handed over phone records.
Lessons from the Williams Car Accident
While the lawsuits filed by Barson and Williams are still playing out, the accident is a reminder to be careful and employ your own safe driving practices to avoid a fatal crash yourself. Here are some takeaways.
- Always follow all driving rules. These include your state’s laws regarding wearing a seatbelt and using a phone to call or text while driving. Even if a security camera is not in plain view, like this case shows, footage may be obtained later from an unlikely source.
- Be a defensive driver. Even if you’re following driving laws, like the Williams lawsuit insists, a crash can still happen because of the behaviors of other drivers. Be alert and aware of other drivers around you, so that you can avoid a collision even when you’re doing everything correctly.
- Carefully document everything after an accident. Take photos of both vehicles and all passengers to document damage and injuries. Be honest in statements to police, and take a personal record of what happened during the crash for potential future use. Do not make statements that may incriminate yourself, and always consult an attorney immediately if you feel the need to.
Even accidents that seem minor may have major implications for your wallet and your personal life. An accident that includes driving at just five miles per hour can be deadly. Consult with a Birmingham car crash lawyer if you have any questions about an accident you’re in so you can ensure your protection and obtain due compensation.