Common Wrongful Death Defenses
August 26, 2022
Losing a loved one from regular, everyday activities is heartbreaking. You could have been saying bye to your loved ones in the morning and discovered that they were killed in a car accident in the afternoon. Whether it is from a car accident or a scheduled medical procedure, a wrongful death accident can happen at any minute.
Losing a loved one is difficult, but it is even more difficult to know that your loved one’s death could have been prevented. No amount of money can bring your loved one back; however, your loved one deserves to have justice sought on their behalf. When you want to hold someone legally liable for your loved one’s death, consider reaching out to a wrongful death lawyer at Zanes Law.
Common Defenses in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Not every wrongful death lawsuit is easy to prosecute. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the defendant has the right to defend themselves against your claims. Listed below are some common defenses that defendants use to absolve themselves of liability.
One of the most common defenses used in wrongful death lawsuits involves self-defense. This defense proposes that the defendant took the victim’s life due to the immediate harm raised in the situation. For this defense to be eligible, it must be proven that the immediate harm was reasonable enough that any logical-thinking individual would believe their life would be taken.
Comparative negligence is a legal concept that the defendant’s attorneys can use to their advantage instead of as a defense. Comparative negligence lessens the liability that a defendant would owe the plaintiff if it were discovered that the plaintiff’s actions contributed to their accident by a particular percentage.
The percentage can be as minimal as 10%, and the defendant would only have to compensate the plaintiff by just 90%. Because Arizona is a comparative state, many attorneys try to use comparative negligence to prove that the plaintiff’s actions contributed to their accident.
Assumption of Risk
Another common defense that some lawyers use is the assumption of risk defense. This defense proposes that the plaintiff was aware of a certain risk associated with whatever activity or product the plaintiff used. This defense is commonly used in wrongful death lawsuits around a defective product.
This defense asserts that the plaintiff was aware of the risk, so the defendant should be held legally liable for the plaintiff’s death.
Closely associated with the assumption of risk defense, the release agreement defense is another common defense that attorneys will use. With any type of risky activity, businesses will request that consumers sign a waiver acknowledging the risks associated with the activity or product. This attempts to absolve themselves of any liability in the future if the plaintiff becomes seriously injured or killed.
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Common Wrongful Death Accidents
While it is always unfortunate that a person has lost their life in an accident, not every accident qualifies as a wrongful death accident. For your loved one’s death to be considered a wrongful death, their death must have occurred due to a personal injury accident. A personal injury accident is an accident that happens as a result of another party’s negligence.
The person responsible for the accident must have owed your loved one a specific duty of care. As a result, there must be a direct correlation between the person’s careless actions and your loved one’s death.
Proving Liability in a Wrongful Death Case
In a wrongful death lawsuit, you would be responsible for proving the other party’s negligence and their liability in your loved one’s death. Personal injury law is the only type of law that allows the loved ones of deceased victims the opportunity to seek financial compensation. The person who can be held liable for your loved one’s death depends on the accident that led to your loved one’s death.
For a car accident, for example, the other driver would be liable for your loved one’s death. In a construction accident, the construction company would be held liable. A truck driver and the trucking company who hired them would be liable in a truck accident, and so on.
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Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
Because wrongful death accidents are one of the unique personal injury accidents in civil court, the damages you can obtain from your lawsuit are also unique. Unlike other claims, you would be able to list damages such as funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and various amounts of your inheritance in your lawsuit.
Your loved one’s death will leave not only an emotional but financial strain on your family. Suing for these damages would help alleviate the financial stress of losing a loved one and hopefully make the grieving process easier to navigate.
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Potential Criminal Penalties
Because a wrongful death lawsuit involves the loss of life, many people mistake wrongful death lawsuits with criminal homicide charges. Even though a defendant can be held liable for the death of a personal injury victim, it does not always mean that the defendant will be held liable in criminal court. The defendant’s actions must be extremely egregious for a prosecutor to also consider filing criminal charges against him or her.
Financial penalties are the only penalties a defendant can face in civil court for wrongful death lawsuits.
The Statute of Limitations
While not a strict defense, one of the common ways that attorneys will stop a wrongful death lawsuit from progressing is by using the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the deadline that all personal injury victims have to file a lawsuit against the parties that wronged them. Missing the statute of limitations means that the courts can automatically have your case dismissed.
The defendant’s attorneys will insinuate that your lawsuit was filed past the statute of limitations and request to have your case thrown out.
Speak with a Compassionate Wrongful Death Attorney Today
When you lose your loved one at the hands of another person’s negligence, you deserve to be represented by a compassionate and experienced wrongful death attorney. At Zanes Law, our attorneys fight necessary to ensure that justice is served on behalf of your loved one. Call our office, or complete a free case evaluation to schedule a free consultation.