The legal process of pursuing a claim for wrongful death within the state of Arizona involves multiple stages. A wrongful death is a claim against an individual who can be held liable for another individual’s death. The claim is initiated in a civil action, usually by close remaining family members, as enumerated by statute. Our experienced Phoenix wrongful death attorneys understand that families have many questions about this legal process when pursuing a wrongful death claim. At Warnock MacKinlay Law, we acknowledge that all cases are unique and we always take an individualized approach to each case. Our legal team has provided an overview of the process for pursuing a legal claim for the damages experienced due to a death that has been caused by another’s negligent or reckless conduct.
The Investigation and Pre-Litigation Stage of Filing A Wrongful Death Claim
Many wrongful death claims eventually involve the filing of a lawsuit, however, sometimes a fair settlement can be resolved without the court’s intervention. Through the pre-litigation phase, the wrongful death lawyers at Warnock MacKinlay Law gather evidence, speak with witnesses, consult with experts and use research relevant case law. Our staff is extremely knowledgeable with local statutes. Our legal team builds a compelling legal claim based on the facts of your case and the laws surrounding wrongful deaths within Arizona. Through this investigation and pre-litigation stage, our staff will be able to make a proper, formal demand for the damages suffered by the parties responsible for causing the wrongful death.
Depending on the particular circumstances of your situation, there may be other necessary steps that must be taken before filing a lawsuit. For example, if one of the parties responsible for causing the wrongful death is a government entity, then there are special procedures that have to be taken before the lawsuit can be filed. In an instance like this, the plaintiff will need to file a Notice of Claim with the public entity. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys have the knowledge and resources to competently prepare a formal demand while making sure we comply with all pre-lawsuit legal procedures.
The Litigation Phase of an Arizona Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A lawsuit begins by preparing a Complaint and Summons that has to be served to the defendants. The complaint just states the basic factual allegations, and legal claims that constitute the means for holding the defendant liable and the types of damages suffered. This paperwork and the Answer that is filed by the defendant are collectively known as the “pleadings.” The answer will provide the response to the allegations listed in the Complaint and set forth affirmative defenses.
Following behind the pleadings being filed, the next stage in the litigation process is discovery. At this discovery phase in the proceedings, both sides of the wrongful death lawsuit use numerous tools to obtain information, documentation, and other evidence from the opposing side. These tools include interrogatories, which are written questions that are answered under oath. Also, requests for production and depositions are used as tools during discovery. The requests for production are written requests that the opposing side provides tangible evidence to be inspected and copied. Both sides of the lawsuit can take depositions of the parties or other witnesses. The person being deposed must answer questions under oath and in the presence of a court reporter. Another discovery tool is a request for admission, which asks the opposing side to admit or deny specific facts of the case.
If the parties involved have disputes about objections to specific discovery requests or a party goes without responding, a motion may be filed to compel compliance. The judge has the ability to impose sanctions for violating discovery requests that can include financial sanctions. The judge can also do the same with sanctions that could harm the non-complying party’s position by presuming certain evidence would favor the opposing party.
Settlement and Arbitration
Both parties may attempt to arbitrate their dispute or begin in informal settlement negotiations throughout the litigation process. Each side can more accurately evaluate the relative strength of their own position throughout the discovery process, which can help facilitate a settlement. There is usually another hearing prior to the trial that can include a Status Conference, Pretrial Conference, and other hearings that permit both parties to work towards a settlement. These hearings can also give the judge a chance to manage the litigation as it moves forward toward trial while narrowing down the issues within the case.
Arizona Wrongful Death Trial
If the case goes without being settled on terms favorable to our clients, we are always prepared to build a compelling case that will demonstrate the extent of loss suffered by the surviving family members, and the role the opposing party played in causing the harm. Wrongful death claims in Arizona will, of course, be subject to the rules of evidence and state court rules. If the jury decides that the defendant’s negligence or intentional acts caused the wrongful death, it will award damages based on the evidence within the case.
Obtain Proper Legal Counsel From a Phoenix Wrongful Death Attorney
At Warnock MacKinlay Law, our staff invites you to call our office and schedule a free consultation, so that we can answer any of your legal questions and help to evaluate your legal claim. When you retain the services of one of our skilled wrongful death attorneys, you can expect to be treated with compassion and care. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family, and although we cannot bring back a lost loved one, we can fight for your rights to proper compensation. Our firm is highly recognized for our years of experience helping other Arizona residents with their legal claims. Call our office today and let us help you through this complex legal process.