A wrongful death action compensates surviving family members for damages they suffer after the death of a loved one. However, a death does not automatically mean that there are grounds for a wrongful death action. You must establish that another party caused the deceased’s death. If you’re filing a wrongful death claim, you must prove that the death was at least partly the result of the defendant’s negligence.
Wrongful death actions can be very expensive claims, so it’s not surprising that an insurance company takes steps to defend its bottom line. An insurance company or the defendant may try to prove that the death occurred not because of the defendant’s negligence, but the decedent’s carelessness.
If you’re filing a wrongful death claim in Newtown, PA, expect the defendant and insurance company to mount a defense but know how to respond.
What are common wrongful death defenses you can expect?
The defendant’s or insurance company’s defense strategy will obviously depend on the circumstances of the case. But some of the more common defenses against wrongful death suits are:
- contributory negligence of the deceased (if the deceased was driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, not wearing a seat belt while driving, or riding a bicycle without wearing a helmet, for example, the defense may try to prove that he was at least partly responsible for his own injuries, thus reducing the defendant’s liability for damages);
- no direct evidence of a link between the death and negligence;
- no evidence of damages the surviving family members are claiming; and
- expiration of statute of limitations (claimants in Newtown must file a wrongful death action within two years after the death).
Know How to Respond to Wrongful Death Defenses
However, you can properly respond to those defenses. Contributory negligence happens to be one of the more common defenses in a wrongful death action. Lawyers will try to prove that the deceased, by his actions or negligence, contributed to his own injuries. For example, the defense may try to claim that the death occurred because the deceased failed to wear a seat belt in an auto accident.
However, the deceased’s failure to use a seat belt does not explain the actual accident for which the defendant may be responsible. Even if the defense does manage to prove that the seat belt could have prevented some of the fatal injuries, it does not completely negate or erase the negligence of the defendant in causing the fatal injuries. Wrongful death claimants may still present evidence that link the defendant’s actions to the accident.
Meanwhile, if the defense argues that there’s no evidence of the claimants’ damages, an attorney may help acquire the proper evidence to establish noneconomic damages or other damages the family suffered. This might include securing expert witnesses to testify about the lost earnings and psychological effects that the family will experience.
Get Legal Help at Cordisco & Saile LLC
No amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one. However, financial damages can help reduce the monetary struggles and difficulties resulting from the loss of the earning member of the family.
Wrongful death actions can help recover damages for:
- hospital and medical expenses that the family paid;
- funeral and burial costs;
- loss of companionship and consortium; and
- future lost earnings.
A survival action may recover compensation for the deceased’s damages prior to death.
If you lost a loved one in Newtown, PA because of the negligence of another person or entity, speak with a wrongful death lawyer at Cordisco & Saile LLC about your rights to compensation and how to deal with any wrongful death defenses. Call us at 215-642-2335.