December 18, 2022
Commonly Used Wrongful Death Defenses

Losing a loved one is heartbreaking. You can say goodbye to a loved one in the morning and discover they died in a car crash on the way to their destination. The cause of death may not matter at the time. It can be from a car accident or a minor medical procedure, a wrongful death accident can happen at any minute. The loss of a loved one is difficult and that difficulty is compounded when you learn the death could have been prevented. The reality is no amount of money that can bring your loved one back but your loved one deserves to have justice on their behalf.

Wrongful death lawsuits are not easy to prosecute. In addition to having to prove  the wrongful conduct of the at-fault party caused the death, there are many defenses available to the defendant that can reduce or eliminate liability.  In use of deadly force lawsuits which are often, but not always, brought against law enforcement officers, the defendant has the right to defend themselves against your claim with the argument of self-defense. This proposes the defendant took the victim’s life due to the threat of serious bodily injury of death caused by the actions of the deceased. This defense is applicable when the defendant proves that the immediate harm was reasonable enough that any logical-thinking individual would believe their life would be taken or they would suffer serious bodily injury.

In deaths resulting from things like motor vehicle accidents or pedestrian accidents, comparative negligence is something the defendant’s attorneys may use to their advantage as a defense. Comparative negligence lessens the liability a defendant would owe the plaintiff if it were discovered that the plaintiff’s actions contributed to their injuries by a particular percentage. The percentage can be as minimal as 10%, and the defendant would only have to compensate the plaintiff by just 90%. Because California is a comparative fault state, many attorneys try to use comparative fault (also called comparative negligence) to prove that the plaintiff’s actions contributed to their injuries.

Another common defense is the assumption of risk defense. This is often used to defend against law suits for injuries arising out of some type of risky activity such as sky diving, skiing or other sporting activities.  This suggests the plaintiff was aware of a certain risk associated with the activity.  It is also used in product liability cases where the claim is that the plaintiff was aware of the danger in using the product and therefore they assumed the risk of injury when they used it.  This defense might apply to the use of an ATV or personal water craft.

A related defense arises when the injured person signed a “release of liabilituy form” prior to engaging in a risky activity.  This is often seen at bounce houses or rock climbing facilities for example.  With any type of risky activity, businesses will request that consumers sign a waiver acknowledging the risks associated with the activity or product. This attempts to absolve themselves of any liability in the future if the plaintiff becomes seriously injured or killed.

Not every accident involving death qualifies as a wrongful death accident. For a death to be considered wrongful the death must have occurred due to another party’s negligence. The person responsible for the accident must have owed your loved one a specific duty of care. As a result, there must be a direct correlation between the person’s careless actions and your loved one’s death.

One of the easiest defenses available to a defendant is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the deadline that all personal injury or wrongful death victims have to file a lawsuit against the parties that wronged them. Missing the statute of limitations means that the courts can automatically have your case dismissed. There are different time periods that apply to different situations and if you delay you may miss your chance to have your day in court.

We represent people who are injured because of the careless and reckless acts of others.  At the end of the day your case can only be settled one time and you need to know all of the facts beforehand. The reason that insurance companies have paid our clients in excess of $130,000,000.00 is that we get the facts and are not intimidated at the prospect of going to trial when insurance companies fail to offer full compensation. A Sacramento personal injury lawyer can help with serious injuries that require serious representation. We are the Law Offices of Guenard & Bozarth, LLP. Our attorneys have more than 60 years of experience specializing in only representing injured people. Call GB Legal 24/7/365 at 888-809-1075 or contact Guenard & Bozarth online. We would be honored to represent you!






Guenard & Bozarth llp obtained a $2,962,903 jury verdict in the Sacramento County Superior Court for plaintiff David Schoonover, who suffered head and neck injuries and fractures in a head-on accident on Roseville Road in Roseville on July 22, 2012




Guenard & Bozarth LLP recently settled a case for $300,000 involving a hair weave that went terribly wrong. Our client was a young lady, and aspiring model, who experienced pressure necrosis from a tight weave and it changed her life.




Guenard & Bozarth LLP recently settled a slip and fall case for $500,000 a couple weeks before trial. The client slipped and fell on a wet piece of cardboard in a grocery store and sustained a serious shoulder injury that required surgery.




On February 13, 2013 Maricela, a Certified Nursing Assistant presented to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Emergency Room with complaint of neck and back pain. She was diagnosed with a neck strain and was given Ibuprofen and instructed to return if her symptoms did not subside.


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– Bill
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