Accidents happen every day. But when the thoughtless actions of someone else leads to a wrongful death, it can have a huge impact on the livelihood of the surviving family members. If you’ve lost a loved one due to a misdiagnosed condition, fatal car or truck accident, or product malfunction, you may now be facing substantial medical bills, unexpected funeral costs, or the stress of having to raise your family on a single income.
You shouldn’t have to face the financial burden of their loss on your own, and the good news is – you don’t have to. With a professional Goodyear, AZ wrongful death attorney on your side like Nathaniel B. Preston of Warnock MacKinlay Law on your side, you can recover compensation for any financial loss you’ve faced as a result of this wrongful death. No matter if you decide to negotiate a fair settlement with the defendant’s attorney or bring your case before an Arizona court, an experienced lawyer acts as your advocate from start to finish to help you receive the compensation you deserve.
- 0.1 What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
- 1 Contact a Goodyear, Arizona, Attorney to File Your Accidental Death Lawsuit
What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit isn’t something that is filed whenever a loved one has passed. It is a special type of personal injury lawsuit that surviving family members can file to receive compensation for their losses. If, had the not passed away, your loved one could have filed a personal injury action for damages following an accident, then you may have a strong wrongful death claim that you could file on their behalf.
Some cases in which an accidental death claim would be deemed appropriate include:
- A car accident caused by the negligence of another driver
- A commercial truck accident caused by a drunk driver
- Medical malpractice
- Abuse or neglect of patients in a nursing home
- Product malfunction or defects
- Unrestrained dog or animal attacks pedestrian
- Slip and fall accidents on unsafe property
- Motorcycle accident due to reckless driving
If any of the above actions occur and someone dies as a result, then a lawsuit can be filed in order to hold the negligent parties responsible.
Wrongful death lawsuits are traditionally filled by the close surviving family members of the deceased. This could include their husband or wife, children, grandparents, or guardians. While it varies from state to state, in Arizona, only close family members can file an accidental death claim. This excludes aunts, uncles, cousins, or divorced spouses of the deceased.
Who can be held responsible for my loved one’s accidental death?
Wrongful death cases can be complicated as there are a number of factors to consider when it comes to liability. Some claims are more straightforward than others. For example, if a drunk or impaired driver gets behind the wheel and their reckless behavior on the road leads to a fatal car accident, then that individual would be considered liable for any resulting damages, including the wrongful death.
If, however, during the car accident, the responsible driver would have made it out of the accident alive had it not been for a major car malfunction, such as their airbags not deploying, then the case becomes more complex. The surviving family could hold the drunk driver responsible, as well as the car manufacturer for their product defect.
Anyone can be sued for an accidental death, including individuals, corporations, or government agencies. Who you decide to file a claim against depends on your individual circumstances as well as the results of a thorough investigation from your lawyer. After examining your case, your attorney will have a clear idea of who you could hold responsible for your loved one’s death.
How soon should I file a claim for wrongful death?
While it’s important to take the time necessary to allow your family to grieve following your loss, if you’re considering filing an accidental death or medical malpractice lawsuit, then the time is of the essence. The state of Arizona has a restrictive 2-year timeframe for filing wrongful death actions. This means that you have just 2 years from the death of your loved one to file your lawsuit.
The exception to this rule are if you have a disability that prevents you from being able to file within that set time, or if the person or company responsible for your loved one’s death withheld information that would have benefitted your case.
You may feel that 2 years is plenty of time to file your claim, but keep in mind that memories fade and evidence often gets misplaced. It takes time to build a strong case and gather the evidence you need in order to prove the negligence of the other part. While your lawyer will certainly interview any witnesses and use their resources to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death, you want to make sure they have enough time as possible to do so.
That’s why you should contact an experienced accidental death lawyer as soon as you can. Lawyers like Nathaniel B. Preston have years of experience helping families in Goodyear, Arizona, receive justice in wrongful death, personal injury, and car accident cases. He’ll use this knowledge to let you know whether you have a strong case and your chances of receiving full compensation for your losses.
What is my accidental death claim worth?
The best way to determine what your claim may be worth is to reach out to your Arizona attorney. No two wrongful death cases are the same, so after examining your case and receiving your statement, your lawyer will have a strong idea of what a judge may reward you for your lawsuit, or what you can negotiate for as part of your settlement.
With that said, whether you’re presenting your case in front of a judge or settling with the defendant’s attorneys outside of court, there are certain factors all parties keep in mind when it comes to awarding compensation. These include:
- Medical expenses from treatment the deceased may have had prior to their death
- Loss of expected income for the family
- Loss of inheritance for the children involved
- Loss of companionship for the spouse or children
- Loss of parental love and guidance for the children
As you can see, compensation encompasses more than just recovering the cost of any medical expenses that incurred due to your loved one’s personal injuries.You may also receive compensation for any emotional pain and suffering – especially if the incident has required you to seek guidance from a psychiatrist for your mental health and wellbeing.
Judges will often award “loss of consortium” to family members, as well. Loss of consortium is compensation for the loss of the familial relationship and bond between the deceased and the ones they left behind. In the state of Arizona, “loss of consortium” claims are not handled as part of a separate trial, but are included in the overall wrongful death lawsuit.
You should be aware that if you choose to request an award for loss of consortium, the defendant’s lawyer may fight against this in court – especially if your relationship with the deceased suffered from separation, abuse, or infidelity issues. Loss of consortium is awarded if you can prove that you are now missing the loving bond between you and the deceased. If your relationship was filled with hardships, the defendant’s lawyer may argue that this award is not applicable in your case. Be sure you discuss this option with your lawyer to see if this is a good option for you.
Should I settle my wrongful death claim or go to an Arizona court?
Ultimately, the decision to settle outside of court or present your case in front of a judge is up to you. Your lawyer can help you decide which option is the best way to ensure your interests are met and you receive full and fair compensation for your loss. With that said, there are pros and cons to both options that you should be aware of.
Settling Out of Court
There are many benefits to a negotiated settlement. The defendant’s insurance company or attorney will want to put an end to the case as soon as possible to avoid a prolonged trial. This could work in your favor – especially if you’d like to put the entire affair behind you as soon as possible, as well.
Your Arizona lawyer will use the evidence they found during their investigation to support your case and increase your chances of receiving full and fair compensation. The other party will present you with an offer for the settlement and your attorney will let you know whether it’s enough to meet your needs and interests.
An accidental death settlement is not a trial. You may not receive and admittance of fault or guilt from the party that caused your loved one’s death. If this is something that’s important to you for your emotional well being, then a settlement may not be the best way to get the justice you deserve.
In addition, there are times when the other party will submit an offer that does not meet your needs or cover the full cost of the damages you have suffered. While your lawyer will always negotiate on your behalf, they may advise you that the best way to ensure you receive compensation is to file an accidental death lawsuit.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The decision to file an action against a third party for the wrongful death of your loved one is about more than receiving fair and full compensation. While that’s important, a traditional hearing will also allow you to publicly hold the negligent party responsible for their actions in an Arizona court.
While in a negotiated settlement, both parties must agree to the final reward for the claim, in a lawsuit, this decision is made by a judge who will determine what type of compensation you’re due.
The first step to winning your accidental death lawsuit is to prove the negligence of the other party. Using the evidence gathered from witness interviews, photos, video footage, or written records, as well as their knowledge of wrongful death law, your attorney will present your case to the judge in order to prove the following:
Proving “Duty of Care”
Duty of care is a legal term that means the defendant had a certain level of duty to ensure the safety of the deceased. Proving “duty of care” can be difficult, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. For example, a medical professional certainly owes their patients a certain “duty of care” and if they neglect this duty – whether through ignorance or through malice – then if the patient dies as a result, the surviving family could receive compensation.
Similarly, when one gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, they owe the other drivers “duty of care” and they are responsible for ensuring they’re operating their car in a safe way.
The defendant’s lawyer may argue that they did not own the deceased duty of care, however. If the deceased was trespassing on the defendant’s property and they suffer injuries from an unleashed pet that lead to their death, then the defendant may argue that they had no duty of care toward the trespasser in their yard.
Proving “Breach of Care”
Once duty of care has been established, the next step to successfully winning your wrongful death action is for your attorney to prove “breach of care”. Breach of care means that the defendant was partially or completely responsible for the safety of the deceased, but neglected this duty.
In a case of medical malpractice, a surgeon that owed a duty of care to their patient may have neglected their duty by arriving at the job drunk or impaired. If the patient undergoing surgery then passes away as a result, then their family members would be justified in filing a lawsuit.
Proving Causation & Damages
It has been established that the defendant owed the deceased a certain level of “duty of care” and that they breached this duty. Your lawyer then has to prove that these neglectful actions lead to your loved one’s death. One example would be if someone suffered from severe injuries following a commercial truck accident where the truck driver was texting while on the road. If the other driver later passed away at the hospital, then the resulting medical report would be able to support the claim that the distracted truck driver’s actions directly led to that person’s death.
A medical report would also be able to prove damages for that case. While receiving treatment for the truck crash, the victim of the accident acquired a number of medical expenses for their injuries, pain, and suffering. Now that they have passed away, their surviving family members would be left to pay for the bills without the aid that that additional income would have afforded.
By presenting the medical bills and report to the court, the attorney for that case would be able to prove that the victim’s injuries led to their death as well as provide supporting evidence that their family deserves compensation for these unexpected expenses in addition to their emotional pain and suffering.
Contact a Goodyear, Arizona, Attorney to File Your Accidental Death Lawsuit
After the unexpected death of a loved one, you may be left with a lot of questions about where to turn next. Who should you call after a wrongful death? How can I afford to move forward with a single income? How can I be compensated for my loss? These answers and more can be answered with the help of a lawyer who has experience helping families move forward after medical malpractice, commercial trucking accidents, or product malfunctions cause the untimely death of a loved one.
Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult enough without having to face extensive medical bills or funeral expenses on your own. You can hold the person, company, or government agency responsible for the death of your family member with help from a seasoned Goodyear, Arizona attorney. Nathaniel B. Preston of Warnock MacKinlay Law has years of experience representing families in both accidental death lawsuits and negotiated settlements. The state of Arizona only grants families 2 years to file a wrongful death claim, so don’t delay. Take the first step toward getting justice for the one you’ve lost and compensation to help you move forward during this difficult time in your life. Our number is (602) 600-6427.