Wrongful Death Attorney
Supporting Families Of Wrongful Death Victims In Their Pursuit Of Justice
Losing someone that you love is never an easy experience, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their death. Unfortunately, the grief and anguish you feel over your loss can be compounded by anger and confusion when your loved one passes away unexpectedly as a result of another party’s negligent or careless actions.
Our Arizona wrongful death attorneys understand how difficult it can be to say goodbye to those we love. We also understand how seemingly impossible it is to even think about the legal aspects of your loved one’s loss. After all, there can be a sea of paperwork, hard decisions, meetings, and other legal responsibilities waiting for a recently deceased person’s next of kin to come and handle. The additional work required to hold the parties responsible for their actions can often feel far too daunting to even consider. But we urge you to do so anyway.
It is important to consider the legal rights you have to pursue justice for your loved one’s death; while no amount of money will ever bring your loved one back, or replace them in your life, compensation for your loss can help you provide the proper burial service and put your family into the best possible situation to focus on your emotional well-being. One way for families to seek compensation while holding the culpable parties responsible for their negligence or harm is through a wrongful death claim.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Phoenix?
When someone loses their life in a way that can be categorized as a fatal accident “caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default,” Arizona law states that their surviving loved ones or legal representatives have the right to file a wrongful death claim. These claims can serve both to hold the responsible party accountable for the dangerous behavior that caused the death and help the family handle the loss—financially and emotionally. While there is no way to compensate for the loss of life, many expenses come with an unexpected death. The benefits from these lawsuits help cover some of these expenses, which can be a hurdle to a family struggling to start their journey toward healing from the sudden loss.
On your behalf, we will aggressively pursue compensation for your losses, including:
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of potential income
- Punitive damages for the negligent party’s actions
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- Grief counseling
What Qualifies as Wrongful Death?
If you’re unfamiliar with wrongful death suits, you may have the perception that there are only a few types of deaths that can qualify as a wrongful death. In actuality, there are many different types of wrongful death claims. From workplace fatalities caused by company negligence to injuries caused at birth due to medical malpractice, any situation that would have been grounds for a personal injury suit if the victim had survived can all fall under the category of wrongful deaths. As long as it’s provable or most plausible the death could have been prevented had the wrongful act or neglect not occurred, the case stands. However, of all the wrongful death lawsuits, one stands out as the most common: car crashes. However, motor vehicle accidents of all kinds can result in wrongful death and warrant a lawsuit. In more than our many years of practice, we have represented clients who have lost loved ones in a wide range of accidents, including:
One common type of wrongful death that can be significantly more difficult to notice or take action against is medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is when a preventable injury, illness, or fatality occurs due to inadequate medical treatment. Some signs to look out for with medical malpractice are:
- Improper testing—Running diagnostic tests is a delicate process, and many factors can skew results. If a doctor fails to identify an illness due to invalid testing methods or a lack of effort, that could be grounds for a lawsuit.
- Delayed diagnosis—When a doctor knows time-sensitive information about a patient’s condition but does not provide it right away, this is considered a delayed diagnosis and can affect the patient’s health.
- Misdiagnosis—For illnesses where symptoms overlap, it can be difficult for even the most skilled doctors to differentiate between some of them. If a doctor guesses which diagnosis is right without further testing, it could result in a misdiagnosis and mistreatment of an illness.
- No improvement—If treatments are not improving the state of a patient’s health, but a doctor does nothing to change that, this could be negligent and result in a wrongful death case.
- Neglect—Major procedures or hospitalizations warrant scheduled follow-ups to assess how you are healing. If you are not informed of your condition upon discharge and contacted at intervals to update you with any new information on your diagnosis, you may have a case of neglect.
What Are the Statutes of Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims in Arizona?
While every state has different laws about wrongful deaths, Arizona statutes state that for up to two years from the date of a deceased person’s death, their surviving beneficiaries are legally allowed to sue for wrongful death. If you are in other states, be aware that the statute of limitations may be much less than you expect. In the case of a suit against a government entity, you have to adhere to a six-month claim notice and file the claim within one year. If you believe that someone is responsible for the death of your loved one, the sooner you seek counsel from a wrongful death attorney, the better.
Is Wrongful Death Always an Accident?
While many wrongful death lawsuits are caused by pure accident or misfortune, there are plenty of instances where intentional acts can warrant a case, including assault. If a person or entity commits an act intending to harm someone and that act causes their death, they are responsible and can be sued for wrongful death. An example of this would be if someone shoved a person into the street without looking, and then that person was fatally struck by a car. The responsible party may have only intended to shock or anger the victim, but their failure to look out for oncoming traffic before taking action and shoving the person resulted in that person’s wrongful death.
Can You File for Wrongful Death if There Is Already an Ongoing Criminal Case?
Not only can you file for wrongful death alongside an ongoing criminal investigation or trial, but you’re also well within your rights to do so. While the criminal justice system has its ways of working through cases to bring about justice for victims’ families, it can often go at a much slower pace and not result in the prosecution’s ideal outcome. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is a way for families to hold negligent individuals and large corporations alike responsible for their fatal actions or inactions. That said, it’s also important that anyone seeking a wrongful death case remains aware that it is a civil suit, so the only form of damages they will receive in the settlement will be financial.
Who Has the Right to Sue for Wrongful Death?
In the case of wrongful deaths in Arizona, not all family members can sue for wrongful death—only statutory beneficiaries (beneficiaries defined in the statute). These beneficiaries are limited to:
- A deceased person’s spouse
- Any surviving children of the deceased person
- The parents or legal guardians (and in the case of the wrongful death of a child, the parents or other legal guardians are the only people able to file a claim).
- On the off-chance that no surviving family members are interested in pursuing a case, a representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death suit as well.
Unfortunately, this does mean that other relatives and close friends cannot file for any losses they may have suffered as a result of their loved one’s passing. So, there will be cases in which parties who did rely on the contributions of a deceased loved one—roommates who need help paying rent, adult siblings with disabilities who need care or financial support, unwed life partners, etc.—will slip through the cracks of the system and justice for some cases will go unserved.
Who Is Entitled to Wrongful Death Benefits?
When it comes to who can receive the benefits of a wrongful death case, it is also only the statutory beneficiaries. Typically, one claim is filed on behalf of all family members, and one law firm represents the entire family as a unit. That changes, however, if there is any friction between beneficiaries (conflicts of interest, disagreements about division of funds, long-standing animosity, or resentment). In those cases, the beneficiaries may have separate legal representation, but they still require all parties to agree to settle. If a settlement is not reached, the case can be tried in court, and beneficiaries will receive a portion of the damages decided by the jury.
How Much Is a Typical Wrongful Death Settlement?
Because there is no way to put a price on human life, a wrongful death settlement considers the monetary and emotional losses the beneficiaries have suffered due to the death. Typically, these settlements will fall between $500,000 to $1 million. Arizona is not, however, among the states that cap the amount of money that can be awarded to beneficiaries in a wrongful death lawsuit. Where a case falls on this spectrum will depend on the specifics of the death at hand. Some of these factors will be:
- The deceased person’s age and health
- Any last medical expenses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Property damages that may have occurred during the incident
- Financial support the deceased could have provided in the future
- Contributions the deceased could have made to the household in the future
- Other needs of surviving beneficiaries, especially young children or other dependents
No matter what amount a case’s benefit turns out to be, every settlement is a statement of justice served and a step toward healing for the surviving family members.
What Does a Phoenix Wrongful Death Attorney Do?
When you are deciding whether to pursue wrongful death action, speaking with a wrongful death attorney can help make everything easier. Having lost a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly, the grieving process can be hard enough without worrying about the details of the death lawsuit. Rather than having to relive your loss, going over your loved one’s story multiple times through each step of the case, you should be taking this time to heal. While you focus on your family’s well being, your attorney will:
- Listen to your loved one’s story, including how their death impacted your life and your future, recording all the details to tell on your behalf.
- Coordinate the investigation of the fatal incident to discern whether the case has a definitive fault.
- Relay your story to investigators, the insurance company, the jury, and any other necessary parties.
- Seek damages from the settlement or trial of your case.
Contact Us To Discuss Your Legal Options
If you have lost a loved one because of another party’s negligence, it is important to speak to an attorney about your rights to pursue compensation. Remember, if the incident that caused your loved one’s death is something they could have filed a personal injury suit for, you are entitled to pursuing justice for their death in their stead via a wrongful death action. Our Phoenix wrongful death lawyers make every effort to shoulder your legal burdens throughout your proceedings, helping you get some justice for your loved one and the support needed to move forward into the future they would have wanted for you.
If you have lost a loved one in Arizona, contact us online or call 602-899-3236 to schedule a free consultation to discuss the loss of your loved one and learn how we can help you pursue justice.