Wrongful Death Claims: The Basics
Nothing can prepare you for the sudden death of a loved one. And when that unexpected death is caused by the wrongdoing of another, it can be exceptionally difficult to understand. No amount of money can replace a lost loved one, but the compensation awarded through a wrongful death lawsuit can assist the family in rebuilding their lives.
Top Causes of Wrongful Death
Accidentals deaths are ranked third in the top leading causes of deaths in the United States, following heart disease and cancer, respectively.
There can be many causes of wrongful death, however, the leading causes include:
- Vehicle Accidents: Accidents on the roads account for tens of thousands of injuries and deaths in the United States each year. When a driver causes a fatal accident by negligence, he or she can expect legal action from the family members of the deceased. If an accident is caused by a vehicle defect, the surviving family can file an action against the manufacturer.
- Workplace Accidents: Some working environments, such as construction sites or energy plants, are inherently more dangerous than others. Accidental workplace injuries and fatalities are unfortunately common in those inherently dangerous industries.
- Intentional Violence: When a person knowingly or intentionally kills another person, he or she will face criminal charges. However, this will not do anything to compensate the family. Therefore, the surviving family will be able to file a wrongful death action to receive compensation.
- Medical Malpractice: Doctors and medical professionals have a legal and moral obligation to treat patients using acceptable methods and treatments. When a doctor or practitioner acts outside the acceptable boundaries, he or she commits medical malpractice. The family of the patient may bring a wrongful death suit against that professional.
Who Can Sue?
Under Arizona law, only certain family members can bring a wrongful death action. Specifically, a husband or wife, child(ren), parent or guardian, or the representative of the deceased person are the only surviving members that can file suit.
That means that siblings or lifetime companions may not have a claim for the damages that they suffered.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
In Arizona, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is two years from the date of the death. Arizona has very specific laws concerning wrongful death claims.
Wrongful death lawsuits are civil actions and they function very similarly to personal injury lawsuits with a few exceptions. Specifically, the way the claim will move through the court and the damages the plaintiff can seek are different.
In Arizona, plaintiffs in a wrongful death claim can secure both economic and noneconomic damages. The economic damages may include:
- Medical bills for treating the deceased’s associated illness or injuries
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost income caused by the wrongful death
- Property damages for any personal property damaged or destroyed in the fatal incident (i.e., the damaged vehicle in a car accident)
- Loss of value of household services provided by the deceased family member
Noneconomic damages include intangible losses suffered by the victim and the victim’s family. These may include:
- The loss of love, affection, companionship, care, protection, and guidance since the death and in the future;
- The pain, grief, sorrow, anguish, stress, shock, and mental suffering already experienced and reasonably probably to be experienced in the future;
Arizona law allows estate representatives to claim economic damages. However, the estate representative is not able to claim noneconomic damages.
Assistance of an Experienced Attorney
During the incredibly difficult time of navigating through the unexpected and wrongful death of a loved one, it will be highly beneficial to seek out the assistance of an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Some of the many benefits of working with an experienced attorney can include:
- The attorney will use a network of experts to investigate the accident and determine liability of the parties;
- The attorney will work closely with you to determine and calculate the damages deserved;
- The attorney will work to tell the story of your loss to fight for the deserved compensation;
- The attorney will work with the insurance company so you do not need to;
- The attorney will fight for you during either a trial or settlement.
Contact Us Today
Navigating through the intricacies of a wrongful death claim in Arizona can be extremely difficult and confusing. The dedicated team at the Yearin Law Office understands how difficult a wrongful death action is for the surviving family members and will put forth all available resources and experience to assist you. Call today at 480-502-0708 for a free consultation.