Whenever someone injures another person due to negligence, recklessness, or intentionally dangerous behavior, the injured party can seek justice and compensation for their losses through a personal injury claim. However, if the injured victim dies, his or her surviving loved ones will need to seek compensation for their losses and damages through a wrongful death claim.
Although similar to personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death claims operate a bit differently. It’s important for Scottsdale residents and everyone else living in Arizona to understand the state laws concerning wrongful death claims.
Wrongful Death Claims in Arizona
Arizona law stipulates who may file a wrongful death claim. A spouse, child, parent, or guardian may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one. If no such person is able or willing to represent the claim, the representative of the decedent’s estate may file the claim. If the estate does not name a representative, the court will appoint one. The statute of limitations or limit for filing wrongful death claims in Arizona is two years starting on the date of death.
Wrongful death claims function very similarly to personal injury lawsuits in that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the death in question. Proving negligence requires establishing three facts in court:
- The defendant had a duty to act with reasonable care.
- The defendant breached this duty in some way, either by a specific action or by inaction in some circumstances.
- The plaintiff’s damages were the direct results of the defendant’s breach of duty.
Damages in Wrongful Death Claims
Depending on the nature of the “final event,” or the specific action that caused the death, the surviving family can secure various types of compensation. Most wrongful death claims secure compensation for damages caused to the estate’s value due to the death as well as compensation for the families’ emotional loss. If the final event in question caused any property damage, the family or plaintiff can also claim these losses as damages.
Similar to a personal injury lawsuit, the family can claim compensation for the decedent’s medical expenses for his or her final injury or illness. A judge will consider expert witness testimony to determine the manner in which the decedent died in terms of physical pain and mental anguish and award pain and suffering compensation accordingly. The plaintiff in a wrongful death claim can also sue for the financial security provided by the decedent, including income the decedent would have reasonably expected to earn in the future. Other monetary damages can include investments affected by the death as well as funeral and burial expenses.
The surviving family suffers intangible losses as well as the financial burden of their loved one’s death. Plaintiffs in wrongful death claims often claim damages including:
- Loss of guidance, companionship, and affection.
- Loss of household services performed by the decedent.
- Pain and suffering from the emotional loss of a loved one.
Finding an Attorney
Wrongful death claims may seem straightforward at first but they can quickly evolve into complex legal entanglements. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person or entity, it’s crucial to secure reliable legal counsel to handle your claim.
The team at Bode & Collins understands how devastating an unexpected loss is to a family, and we put the full range of our resources and experience at the disposal of every one of our clients. Reach out to us to schedule a consultation about your wrongful death claim in Scottsdale or anywhere else in Arizona. We’ll assess your situation and let you and your family know what to expect from your claim.