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Wrongful Death in Arizona: What the Law Says About It

Wrongful death is a result of human error or a faulty act of another person. Negligence has killed hundreds of lives, from workplace injuries to road accidents. Dozens of wrongful death cases in Arizona stem from preventable accidents.

What qualifies as wrongful death?

Negligent actions that fatally harm someone result in wrongful death. It could be a miscalculated swerve that topples the driver from the other side of the road. Or it could be the result of a medical treatment error that flatlines the poor patient on the hospital bed.

Wrongful deaths can also be the aftermath of a string of safety violations at work. Hundreds of workers die every year due to dangerous work environments.

Any fatality which could have been avoided if proper decisions were made constitutes wrongful death.

Death by Wrongful Act

The Arizona Revised Statutes Sections 12-611 to 12-613 are all about the Wrongful Death Act. A.R.S. § 12-611, explaining that the cause of death must be due to negligence.

12-611. Liability

“When death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action to recover damages in respect thereof, then, and in every such case, the person who or the corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death was caused under such circumstances as amount in law to murder in the first or second degree or manslaughter.”

In other words, the victim may have instead filed for a personal injury lawsuit if he/she survived. Either way, the liable party will still bear responsibility. In a wrongful death case, the survivors of the victim are the ones who may file the lawsuit.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death

By working with an experienced attorney, the family of the deceased can seek justice for their loss. Below are some examples of wrongful death cases:

  • Motor vehicle accidents 

    Road crashes are the leading cause of wrongful death in the United States. From motorcycles and cars to buses and trucks, the roadways claim thousands of lives. In Arizona alone, one person is killed in a road crash every 8 hours and 56 minutes. Drunk driving caused more than a quarter of all the fatal road accidents in the state.

  • Product liability 

    Defective products that bring fatal injuries to a person can also count as wrongful death. Companies that manufacture defective products are liable for product liability claims.

  • Workplace accidents 

    Unsafe working conditions result in fatal workplace accidents. Workers can die due to faulty equipment and dangerous procedures. By failing to provide the necessary safety gear and by not implementing strict safety protocols, companies can be held liable for the accident.

  • Premises liability 

    The law requires property owners to ensure that their premises are safe. A dangerous property condition may lead to fatal injuries. It could be anything from an unfenced swimming pool, a collapsing wall, or a vicious dog attack. If the victim had a lawful presence on the property, the owner may be held responsible for any accident that happened within his property.

  • Medical malpractice 

    Health care providers are prone to human error, but mistakes should not be so bad that it costs someone their life. Thus, surviving families can sue for the wrongful death of their loved ones if they believe that the fatality was preventable.

  • Drowning accidents 

    From swimming pools to open bodies of water, property owners and water vehicle operators are responsible for the safety of their guests. Drowning can be prevented if potential dangers are avoided.

  • Nursing home negligence 

    When an elderly person dies in a nursing home due to negligence, the caregiver and the nursing home manager are liable. Stories of abuse are real, and the families of the deceased may seek justice.

  • Aviation accidents 

    Poorly maintained aircraft often lead to wrongful death. Families of aviation accident victims may sue the airline company, as well as the manufacturer if defective parts caused the plane crash.


Wrongful Death claims in Arizona

As stated in A.R.S. § 12-612, the family of the deceased can file a claim for the wrongful death of their loved one.

12-612. Parties plaintiff; recovery; distribution; disqualification

“A. An action for wrongful death shall be brought by and in the name of the surviving husband or wife, child, parent or guardian, or personal representative of the deceased person for and on behalf of the surviving husband or wife, children or parents, or if none of these survive, on behalf of the decedent’s estate.”

In other words, aside from the parents and children, only legitimate spouses can file for a wrongful death claim in Arizona. In other states, common-law partners, siblings and distant relatives cannot file for claims.


How much can you get for wrongful death in Arizona?

While no amount of money can compensate for the death of a loved one, the surviving family can collect for the damages. To begin with, you can reimburse hospital fees and funeral-related expenses.

If the victim died from a collision, property damage can also be accounted for. Depending on its fair market value, beneficiaries should receive reimbursement for the damaged vehicle.

Lost wages are also included in the computations. The salary of the deceased, from the time of death, will be multiplied by the years of his/her life expectancy. For example, had it not been for the accident, the victim might have been able to work for the next 30 years. The salary projection will also include a percentage of the yearly salary increase. Afterward, the resulting amount is rendered as economic damages.

The actual amount will depend on the unique circumstances of the surviving family. The claim may also include any other expenses and losses related to the wrongful death.


Wrongful death lawyers in Arizona

Warnock MacKinlay Law can help you get through this devastating time. You can rely on our wrongful death lawyers to seek justice on your behalf. Most of the time, the cases we have dealt with involve breadwinners. After the wrongful death incident, we believe that financial problems should be the least of your worries right now.

The statute of limitations in Arizona is within 2 years after the time of the accident. We will work on your case quickly so that you can file your claim as soon as possible.

Let us help you in the process of securing a fair settlement for your losses. We can discuss your legal options so you fully understand your legal rights.

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