Common Wrongful Death Defenses Defendants Use to Absolve Themselves of Liability

The death of a loved one is always devastating, but more so when it occurs due to someone else’s misconduct or negligence. Sadly, hundreds of thousands of people die wrongful death every year in the US; at least 250,000 die just due to medical malpractice and errors. While nothing can compensate for the loss of human life, especially that of a family member, filing a wrongful death liability claim can help the family of the deceased pay the pending medical bills and make up for the loss of income they may face, even if it’s only for some time.

Proving negligence or misconduct in wrongful death lawsuits isn’t always easy, though.

Given that wrongful death settlements can range from $500,000 to a million dollars, on average, defendants use all sorts of tactics, reasoning, and explanations to justify their actions and absolve themselves of the liability. Let’s look at some of the most common defenses used in wrongful death liability claims, so you can better counter them in court with your wrongful death attorney.

● Assumption of Risk

The assumption of risk defense asserts that the deceased was aware of the risks or potential dangers involved in an act or process yet agreed to it. Hence, they hold the fully responsible for their death.

● Self-Defense

A self-defense argument is presented to counter a wrongful death assertion or claim where the defendant faced a life threat from the deceased or had reasonable reasons to believe so. However, the defendant needs to prove that they had no other way to save themselves, and had they not done what they did, their own life would have lost their own life. It’s the most common defense used in wrongful death cases that involved physical conflicts.

● Signed Release Agreement

People are made to sign a release agreement or waiver before performing any activity or undergoing a procedure that involves any kind of risk. The very purpose of it is to avoid lawsuits and liability claims in case of an injury or death. While this is a strong defense in many wrongful death claims, it is not useful in cases where the death (or the action that caused it) was due to gross negligence or the result of an intentional act.

You sign a release agreement before every medical procedure or adventurous activity, like bungee jumping or scuba diving.

Hire an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer to Effectively Counter Defense Arguments

Proving negligence or willful misconduct in wrongful death cases can be challenging, especially when the suspect/accused comes up with one of these strong defenses. What can make the situation even more difficult is that Nevada is a comparative negligence state.

This means the amount of compensation the plaintiff receives is inversely proportional to the deceased’s relative responsibility in a wrongful death litigation. If the deceased is also found responsible for the act/event/situation that caused their death, their compensatory benefits will reduce accordingly. For example, if the deceased is found to be 20% responsible for their death, the compensation gets reduced by 20%.

Considering that it’s very common for defendants to throw the responsibility on the deceased (partly, if not wholly), you need an experienced lawyer to fight your wrongful death claim in court. We have a team of wrongful death lawyers in Nevada with extensive industry experience. If you have lost a family member due to someone else’s wrongful act, negligence, or willful misconduct, contact us at The Bourassa Law Group for a free wrongful death lawsuit evaluation in Nevada.  Dial 1-800-870-8910 to book your consultation session today.

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