If you're on the defensive side of a wrongful death lawsuit, it may be hard to see a resolution that isn't going to cost you thousands of dollars. In order for you to properly defend yourself in a case like this, you'll need to be informed and prepared. In addition to working with a wrongful death attorney, you'll also want to familiarize yourself with some of the potential defenses. Here's a look at several defense options for your case.
If you were trying to protect yourself from the imminent threat of bodily harm or death, you may be able to claim self-defense in a wrongful death case. You can only claim this, though, if you can show that you had just cause to fear for your life and well-being.
For the courts to hold you liable for the individual's death, the plaintiff will have to prove beyond any doubt that you were responsible for it. Although the cause doesn't have to be the direct result of an action on your part, there must be a clear link between your actions and the victim's death. If you can cast doubt on or disprove the plaintiff's claim of causation, it may be a viable defense.
If the victim signed a liability release, the signed release document may be enough to prevent you from being sued for wrongful death. You'll have to have an attorney examine the document to find out if it's legally enforceable, though.
Illegal Activity by the Victim
If the death occurred as a result of illegal activity on the part of the deceased, the plaintiff will not likely be able to seek any restitution for the loss. If you can prove that the person was trespassing or doing something else that's against the law, you have a good chance to have the claim denied.
In some situations, you may be able to show that the deceased was well aware of the risks that he or she faced and accepted them. If this is the case, you can claim that the assumption of risk exempts you from liability for the death.
Your ability to claim any of these defenses is going to depend on the details of the case and your state's specific laws. Working with a wrongful death attorney is the best way to be sure of which defense will work for your specific needs.
After being involved in a serious auto accident with a drunk driver, I struggled heavily with getting the driver's insurance company to open a claim. When the insurance company started pushing back, I knew I needed to do something. I spent a lot of time digging through the laws surrounding auto accident claims so that I knew what my legal rights were. I even talked with an auto accident attorney. I created this site to teach others about what I learned, including my court experience. I hope it helps you to determine how you should proceed with your auto accident case.