In a wrongful death lawsuit, there are three players: the deceased, their beneficiaries, and the defendant. Lawsuits are based on a beneficiary’s right to bring the action available to a deceased, had they not been killed. Therefore, most defenses available in personal injury cases can be used in wrongful death actions. The availability of these defenses will depend on the case’s circumstances and upon the jurisdictional law. However, below are some of the potential defenses an attorney in Albuquerque, NM, may use.
To hold the defendant liable, the plaintiff must document that the defendant’s behavior caused the death. Cause needs not be direct, but there must be a link between the conduct and the death.
This defense can only be used if a defendant could reasonably believe that they were in danger of bodily harm or loss of life. Even if the belief was subjective, it must have been reasonable to claim self-defense.
A defendant can cite a waiver or release agreement as a defense. Although such an agreement can prevent a wrongful death suit based on simple negligence, it cannot protect a defendant from a claim based on gross negligence.
Unlawful Acts on the Deceased’s Part
If a person was committing a crime at the time of death, their beneficiaries could not bring a wrongful death lawsuit. This defense is based on the belief that society should not reward criminal behavior.
Where this defense is permitted, a defendant can claim that the deceased person assumed all risk associated with their actions. A risk assumption requires that the decedent is aware of the dangers and that they proceed anyway.
The Carter & Valle Law Firm can claim that the deceased’s behavior contributed to his or her death. Contributory negligence can keep beneficiaries from collecting compensation in a wrongful death claim.
If there’s no jurisdictional law on contributory negligence, a defendant can use comparative negligence as a defense. Here, the plaintiff’s compensation would be reduced according to the amount of responsibility the deceased had for his or her own death.
Hiring an Attorney in a Wrongful Death Action
Whether one is the plaintiff or the defendant in such a case, it’s important to have the help of the team at website. An attorney in Albuquerque, NM, can break down legal theories associated with wrongful death claims, and they can help clients mount a successful defense or obtain the proper legal remedy.