Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions: Pursuing or Defending Claims

Assessing Claims, Proving or Defending Liability, Navigating Complex Valuation and Settlement Issues

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will provide guidance to plaintiff and defense counsel for pursuing or defending against wrongful death claims and survival actions. The panel will discuss effective tactics for assessing claims, proving or defending liability, calculating damages, and negotiating settlements.


Surviving family members of an individual killed as a result of another’s negligence, whether by vehicle accident, product defect, construction site accident or medical malpractice, usually pursue wrongful death claims against one or more defendants to recover damages for loss of the decedent’s income, household services, protection, care, comfort, companionship and more.

In more than half of U.S. states, if a defendant is found to have acted maliciously, intentionally or recklessly, punitive damages may also be awarded in wrongful death cases. Additionally, the estate of the decedent may bring a survival action in tandem with a wrongful death claim to recover damages for fatal injuries, pain and suffering, and medical expenses experienced leading up to death.

Determining the value of one’s life is the most critical and difficult aspect of handling wrongful death claims. When assessing damages, counsel must take into account the decedent’s earnings and life expectancy, as well as assign a monetary value to the loss of economic contributions, services, society, comfort, care, protection, and companionship the decedent would have provided.

Other legal and practical considerations in wrongful death cases include the selection (or striking) of sympathetic potential jurors, the potential lack of surviving eyewitnesses to testify, and the selection and reliance upon economic experts to testify regarding future damages.

Listen as our panel of practitioners with experience representing wrongful death claims and survival actions on behalf of plaintiffs or defendants examines the special aspects of these cases that set them apart from other types of personal injury cases. The panel will outline liability, evidentiary, and other legal and practical strategies for pursuing or defending against damages and negotiating settlements.



  1. Case assessment
  2. Proving or defending against liability
  3. Evidentiary issues
  4. Assessing damages, including use of economic experts
  5. Negotiating settlements


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What are the legal and practical considerations for attorneys pursuing or defending wrongful death claims and survival actions?
  • What challenges do counsel face in valuing wrongful death claims—and how can they be overcome?
  • What defenses have been successful in these cases—and how can plaintiff counsel defeat them?


Donald Patrick Eckler
Donald Patrick Eckler

Pretzel & Stouffer

Mr. Eckler’s practice has evolved from primarily representing insurers in coverage disputes to managing complex...  |  Read More

Daniel M. Gilleon
Daniel M. Gilleon

The Gilleon Law Firm

Mr. Gilleon focuses his practice on personal injury law, wrongful death, employment law, business litigation...  |  Read More

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