Although some people may believe that wrongful death lawsuits are difficult to defend against, the truth is that you do have some options. If you've been served with papers for a wrongful death suit, it's important that you act right away. The sooner you start working with a wrongful death attorney, the easier it will be to determine how to defend yourself in court. Here are a few of the most common defenses that may apply to your situation.
Lack of Causation
In order for you to be liable for the death in question, there must be no reasonable doubt that you were responsible. While your action doesn't have to specifically be the cause of death, the death must be directly and clearly linked to your actions. If there's any way to cast doubt, such as identifying any other contributing factors, that could be an effective defense.
Existing Assumption of Risk
If you have any evidence that the other party understood and accepted the injury risk that he or she faced, you may not be liable for the death. In that case, the other party was assuming the risk of the event, which exempts you. Sometimes, social media videos and similar footage will suffice to document this.
Released From Liability
If you're hosting an event or function and obtained a signed liability release document from every attendee, including the victim, that release may be all you need to protect you against a wrongful death charge. It's important to have the document evaluated by an attorney first to make sure that it's legal.
Protecting Yourself and Your Family
If the incident in question occurred because you were protecting yourself from an attack by the victim, you may be able to claim that the person was killed in self-defense. You'll only be able to claim this if you can show some evidence that you were legitimately in fear for your life or your family's safety.
If illegal activity on the part of the victim lead to their death, that's often enough to support your defense. For example, if the victim broke into the property where the accident happened, he or she was killed in the commission of a crime. This can be enough for you to have the case dismissed.
Each state has their own regulations for proving wrongful death. The best way to know for sure what applies in your situation is to reach out to a wrongful death claim attorney who can give you the details of the law where you live.