A wrongful death claim is filed when a person dies because of the actions of another and the deceased’s estate brings a lawsuit against the person who acted negligently. The purpose of a wrongful death suit is to allow the deceased’s loved ones to take legal action and receive compensation for the person’s death. If you’ve lost a loved one and you believe it was because another person acted negligently, you might be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
What When Can a Wrongful Death Claim Be Filed in Arizona?
The easiest way to determine if a wrongful death claim in Scottsdale, Arizona, is appropriate is to ask if, had the victim survived, he or she would be eligible to file a personal injury claim. Essentially, a wrongful death suit is a personal injury claim filed by the deceased’s estate. Was your loved one killed due to someone else’s negligence or intentional harm? If the answer is yes, a wrongful death suit would be appropriate.
Examples of when it would be appropriate to file a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Intentional killing of a victim. If a person is murdered, his or her loved ones can file a wrongful death claim.
- Medical malpractice. If a doctor fails to provide a patient with appropriate and competent treatment and the patient dies as a result, loved ones are entitled to file a claim.
- Car accident involving negligence. If a person dies in a car crash or other accident involving a motor vehicle and the driver of a vehicle involved in the accident is believed to have been negligent, a wrongful death claim is appropriate.
There are other instances in which a wrongful death claim would be appropriate, but these are a few of the most common. Wrongful death claims can arise from any type of personal injury situation, aside from those that occur in the workplace, which are typically handled through a workers’ compensation claim.
How Can I Prove a Wrongful Death Claim?
In order to receive compensation in a claim, the victim’s personal representative or plaintiff must prove the defendant had a duty of care, breached that duty, and that the breach was the direct cause of the victim’s death.
Though these claims are typically filed by the victim’s estate on behalf of loved ones, the person who constitutes a “loved one” varies from state to state. For instance, a spouse is entitled to file a wrongful death claim in every state, as are parents of minor children, and minor children whose parents are killed. There is discrepancy from state to state regarding the rights of adult children, grown siblings, and extended relatives.
What Compensation Can I Receive for My Wrongful Death Claim in Scottsdale, Arizona?
The money awarded to those who file these claims vary a great deal based on the circumstances of their loved one’s death, but typically fall into the following categories:
- Pain and suffering while the deceased was still alive (this is a survival claim).
- Cost of medical care prior to death.
- Funeral and burial costs.
- Loss of expected income (the amount of money the deceased would have likely made had he or she not been killed).
- Loss of inheritance.
- Value of services the deceased would have provided.
- Loss of love and companionship.
- Loss of care, guidance, and nurturing.
- Loss of consortium (deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship).
Common Questions About Wrongful Death Claims
Obviously, it’s easy to see why it’s difficult to put a dollar amount on some of the categories, but the court does its best to translate the survivors’ loss into a fair amount of compensation. The benefit of filing a wrongful death claim is that the compensation can alleviate the financial burden left by the loss of a loved one. This is especially true when someone loses a spouse or parent. The justice system makes an allowance for those who are most affected financially if a loved one dies and it is the fault of another person.
What are some of the most common questions people have about these suits?
Am I eligible to file a claim? The best thing you can do is to speak to an attorney if you believe you have a wrongful death suit. There is a statute of limitations (two years in Arizona), so the sooner you seek legal advice the better. Most law firms don’t charge anything to make an inquiry.
There was a criminal trial following the death of my loved one. Can I still file a claim?
Absolutely, and it doesn’t matter what the verdict was in the criminal trial either. Criminal charges are filed by the state, while wrongful death claims are filed by the estate of the deceased. It would not constitute a case of double jeopardy and even if a person was found not guilty, a skilled wrongful death attorney could still win your wrongful death claim.
Will it be difficult to deal with a trial following the death of my loved one?
There are no easy solutions and no matter how much money you stand to gain in a wrongful death suit, it isn’t going to bring your loved one back. It’s up to each individual to determine if they want to pursue a lawsuit and whether or not the compensation they receive is worth the pain of continuing to focus on the death of a loved one.
In many cases, family members feel vindicated if they are able to win a wrongful death claim, especially if a criminal trial did not go their way. They not only file their claim in order to receive money and relieve the financial burden created by the loss of their loved one, but they also do it in honor of their loved one’s memory.
Consult with an Arizona Attorney About Your Case
If you would like more information or you need to speak to someone about filing a wrongful death claim, contact Warnock MacKinlay Law, a compassionate wrongful death attorney in Scottsdale, AZ, at 602.833.0933 to discuss your case.