There are three sides in wrongful death actions: the person who died, their beneficiaries and the defendant. Wrongful death lawsuits are based on a beneficiary’s right to file for the victim; therefore, most personal injury defenses are available in these cases. The availability of these defenses depends on the case’s circumstances and upon jurisdictional law. Below are some of the most common defenses used by a wrongful death attorney in Fort Collins.
To hold someone responsible for another person’s wrongful death, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant’s actions caused the person’s death. The link does not necessarily have to be direct, but there has to be a connection. A defendant cannot be held liable if there is no causal link between their actions and the decedent’s death.
A defendant can only claim self defense if they had reasonable belief that bodily harm or death was imminent. Even if the belief is subjective, it must be reasonable for the self-defense claim to succeed.
Defendants may cite release agreements as possible defenses in wrongful death actions. Although a release can keep a defendant from facing accusations of simple negligence, it does not protect them during instances of gross negligence.
Crimes Committed by the Decedent
If the victim took part in a crime at the time of their death, that person’s beneficiaries cannot hire Burton and Burton to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This defense is based on the belief that society should not reward criminal behavior.
Where permissible, the defendant may claim that the victim assumed risks associated with their conduct. Risk assumption requires a decedent to be aware of the danger involved, but they choose to proceed anyway.
A wrongful death attorney in Fort Collins can assert the contributory negligence defense if the victim’s actions contributed to their death. A finding of contributory negligence can prevent beneficiaries from recovering in a wrongful death suit, unless the defendant’s behavior was willful, malicious or intentional.