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

Conducted on Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Recorded event now available

This CLE webinar 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, Partner
Pretzel & Stouffer, Chicago

Mr. Eckler’s practice has evolved from primarily representing insurers in coverage disputes to managing complex litigation in which he represents a wide range of professionals, businesses and tort defendants. His record of success includes numerous summary judgments, several successful trial results and multiple favorable appellate results. His coverage practice for insurers and the insured involves CGL and personal lines policies, issues involving the duties to defend and indemnify, bad faith and the application of exclusions.

Daniel M. Gilleon, Partner
The Gilleon Law Firm, San Diego

Mr. Gilleon focuses his practice on personal injury law, wrongful death, employment law, business litigation and civil rights. He is a an experienced plaintiff's civil trial attorney, and a recipient of the “Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award” given to him by peer attorneys. His extensive trial experience has led to several significant verdicts. He is often called on as a legal analyst and commentator by ABC, NBC, CBS and the Fox Network, where many of his cases have received expansive coverage.


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Customer Reviews

I liked the practical and specific tips.

Natalie Lyons

The Cannon Law Firm

The webinar was well-presented, interesting and informative.

Randi Saul-Olson

McKinney, Wainwright & Saul-Olson

Overall, a very good presentation. For my practice, the presentation was relevant and highly informative.

David Lawrenz

Hinkle, Hensley, Shanor & Martin

Great content, including everyday examples, provided by each speaker.

Tim Reed

Duncan Firm

The relevance of the material and impact on the PI practice area was greatly appreciated.

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Baroumes & Bruen

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Litigation Advisory Board

David R. Cohen


Reed Smith

Jeffrey J. Fowler


O’Melveny & Myers

Jonathan Evan Goldberg



Mark E. Goodman


Capes Sokol Goodman & Sarachan

Dean D. Hunt


Baker & Hostetler

Michael E. Lackey, Jr.


Mayer Brown

Stephen Paffrath


Greenberg Traurig

Anthony T. Pierce


Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

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