There was a passenger in Ryan Dunn’s car when the “Jackass” television and movie star died last year in a Pennsylvania car accident. The parents of the passenger, who also lost his life when Dunn’s Porsche hit a tree at a reported 132 mph, are suing Dunn’s estate and a West Chester bar for wrongful death.

The family members’ civil suit stated that their son’s death was caused by Dunn’s recklessness and negligence. Published reports said the stunt actor died in a drunk driving accident.

The wrongful death suit also blames the bar, Barnaby’s of America, for over-serving alcohol to an already-intoxicated Dunn in June 2011. Ryan Dunn and his passenger were at the bar just before the fatal accident occurred.

Pennsylvania dram shop laws allow a plaintiff to sue an alcohol seller, if it can be proven that the bar or liquor store was negligent. A plaintiff must be able show that a patron or victim was obviously intoxicated at the time the alcohol was served. The plaintiff must also to connect the alleged over-serving with the injuries or death it caused.

The plaintiffs would have named the “Jackass” actor as the defendant if Dunn survived. Because Dunn died in the crash, the star’s estate may be liable to pay damages to the relatives of the passenger who lost his life.

Reports did not specify the damage amounts sought in the wrongful death action, although the parents hope to recover lost wages their son might have earned.

Personal injury lawyers help injury victims and victims’ families determine an appropriate request for damages. Attorneys also are keenly aware of the time limits imposed by probate laws on actions that may be taken by plaintiffs in court.

Negligence does not have to be obvious or direct to occur. In this case, it may be clear that Ryan Dunn’s negligence caused his own death and the death of his passenger. What may not be so easy to establish is whether the bar was also to blame.

Source: reuters.com, “‘Jackass’ Star Ryan Dunn’s Estate Sued Over Fatal Crash,” Andrew Lu, Aug. 9, 2012