This article addresses the treatment of suicide victims under tort law fault analysis in an effort to provide some understanding of and structure to the subject. It begins by reviewing fault-based analysis under tort law generally and the defenses of contributory and comparative fault. Next, it discusses some of the cases in which courts have addressed the issue of fault on the part of suicide victims, finding that the cases contain confusing analysis and conflicting results. The article then reviews these cases and derives from them two key factors—custody and knowledge of suicide potential—as necessary elements for a court to find that a hospital, jail, or some other defendant has assumed the duty of self-care that a suicidal person would otherwise owe to himself. The article concludes by analyzing and clarifying three issues that have caused confusion as they relate to the fault of suicide victims: simple negligence of an otherwise suicidal person, proximate causation, and the lower standard of care for someone with reduced mental capacity.
Charles J. Williams,
Fault and the Suicide Victim: When Third Parties Assume a Suicide Victim’s Duty of Self-Care,
76 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol76/iss2/4