There are three parties to a wrongful death suit: the person who died, that person’s beneficiaries, and the defendant from whom the decedent’s family wishes to recover. A wrongful death suit is based on a beneficiary’s right to bring a personal injury case in the decedent’s stead. An Injury Lawyer in Bel Air can use most of the same defenses as they would in a regular injury suit.
Defenses to Wrongful Death Actions
The availability of such defenses depends on each case’s circumstances and the law in the state where the death happened. Listed below are some of the potential defenses a lawyer can use:
* Self defense: Only available if a defendant had a reasonable belief that they would suffer bodily harm or loss of life.
* Release agreements: Defendants and their lawyers can use a release agreement as a defense in a wrongful death suit. An agreement can keep a defendant from facing a simple negligence suit, but it offers no protection in cases of gross negligence.
* The decedent’s illegal acts: If the decedent was breaking the law when they died, their beneficiaries can’t make a recovery. This defense is based on the premise that unlawful acts should not be rewarded.
* Risk assumption: Where this defense is used, defendants can say that the decedent knew and assumed risks associated with their actions. Risk assumption requires the decedent’s knowledge that their actions were dangerous, and that they committed the act anyway.
Defendants can make a claim of contributory negligence if the decedent’s actions contributed to his or her death. This type of negligence prevents beneficiaries from making a monetary recovery in a personal injury or wrongful death suit, unless the defendant acted wantonly, intentionally or maliciously.
If your state does not use the contributory negligence theory, defendants can use comparative negligence as a defense. This type of negligence reduces damages to an amount proportional to the decedent’s responsibility.
Hiring an Attorney
Whether you are in the role of defendant or plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit, you should hire an Injury Lawyer in Bel Air to help you break down the theories behind the defenses to wrongful death claims. A lawyer can explain these theories, and apply them as needed to ensure that you get the recovery you deserve.