Evaluating Your Options

Evaluating Your Options

Facts Vs. Law In Wrongful Death Cases

Dale Watkins

When a wrongful death claim or a lawsuit is examined, there are two broad sets of concerns that have to be looked at. On the one hand, there are the general facts of the case in terms of what happened, who was there and how things unfolded. On the other hand, there are questions about how the law applies to the case. It's important to understand how these two sides of the equation stack up against each other and interact.

Undisputed Facts

The factual side of a case is often the simplest part of a case to deal with, especially if all parties involved agree on how things occurred. Suppose an incident occurred in a factory where a visitor was killed by a piece of equipment that fell from the ceiling. Everyone agrees on the sequence of events, who was present, what the injuries were, and so on. There's no real dispute of the nature of the injuries that led to the victim's death.

In such cases, there are two possible outcomes for the alleged at-fault party to consider. First, they may accept the facts and the applicable law in the way that the victim's wrongful death lawyer says they apply. These defendants are likely to just try to settle the case. The second option for the defense would be to contest what laws apply and whether they're legally liable.

Disputed Facts

This is where things can get testier. In the previous example, there might be a dispute over whether the visitor was in an unauthorized part of the building. The defense might assert the victim ignored warnings about dangers and proceeded to a spot where they shouldn't have been.

Discovery and depositions are the primary tools for a wrongful death lawyer to establish disputed facts. People who were present might be asked to give testimony about what they saw. Similarly, discoverable evidence might include logs from the factory and video surveillance.


A defendant's final argument lies in the law itself. This opens questions about whether a party was liable even if all the facts are agreed upon. Continuing with the previous example, suppose the visitor had signed a liability waiver. Does that absolve the company of liability, or is there a point at which the negligence becomes so gross that a waiver doesn't matter? An insurance company might cite the waiver in rejecting a claim, and the question of law may have to be examined in court.

To learn more, contact a wrongful death lawyer.


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Evaluating Your Options

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