Wrongful Death Lawyer in Surprise, Arizona
A car accident, medical procedure, or product malfunction that leads to the unexpected death of a family member or loved one can have a devastating impact on your life. The surviving family members may not have the means to handle the resulting funeral expenses or medical bills on their own. Aside from the financial burden, the death of a loved one causes an emotional toll on those they’ve left behind. Let a wrongful death lawyer in Surprise, Arizona, help you recover losses and hold the negligent parties responsible for your loved one’s death.
While nothing can bring back a family member or friend who has passed away, if you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another person, company, or entity, then you and your family deserve compensation for the full extent of your losses, including medical bills, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering. Seasoned Arizona attorneys like Nathaniel B. Preston of Warnock MacKinlay Law have the resources and the legal knowledge needed to increase your chances of winning your lawsuit or reaching a fair settlement.
An attorney can help you receive compensation for your:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of inheritance
- Medical expenses that occurred as a result of the accident
- Loss of expected income
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of parental guidance
What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death lawsuit is special kind of personal injury claim. It is usually filed in cases where, had the incident not resulted in a death, your loved one would have been able to sue for personal injuries. If your attorney is able to prove that their death was caused by the negligence of another party or through intentional harm, then the surviving family members may be entitled to financial compensation for their losses and suffering.
Wrongful death lawsuits can include a wide range of fatal accidents, including car accidents that occurred due to the negligence of another driver, medical malpractice, or product liability cases. Due to this, a number of persons could be found legally liable for your loved one’s deaths, including individuals, companies, or even government agencies (though some government employees may be immune). An exception to this rule would be if your loved one passed away due to work-related injuries. These types of cases are traditionally handled as part of a worker’s compensation claim.
Not all wrongful death lawsuits are filed due to the negligence of another party. If a death occurred due to an intentional act of harm, such as a murder, then the surviving family can sue the accused for wrongful death compensation.
When can I file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits are filed by a legal representative on behalf of their surviving family members to seek compensation following the death of a loved one. While these types of lawsuits can be complex and not every personal loss results in a lawsuit, there are certain situations in which a wrongful death claim is considered appropriate, including:
- Car, motorcycle, or trucking accident caused by driver negligence
- Medical negligence or malpractice
- Nursing home patient neglect or abuse
- Dog bites or animal attack
- Slip and fall accidents while on unsafe property
- A product defect or malfunction
Regardless of the root cause or whether you’re filing a claim against an individual or a corporation, you’ll want to begin your lawsuit as soon as possible. In the state of Arizona, there is a limited amount of time for someone to file an accidental death claim. The usual statute of limitations is only 2 years long for the time of the loved one’s death. That’s why it’s paramount that you reach out to a Surprise, Arizona lawyer to have them review your wrongful death claim as soon as possible. They will help you recover damages for all associated medical expenses or funeral costs.
Who can be held responsible for the wrongful death of my loved one?
Your family doesn’t have to shoulder the full financial and emotional burden of your loved one’s death alone. Arizona wrongful death statute entitled A.R.S. Section 12-611 states that certain family members of a relative who has passed away may recover compensation for their losses in cases of accidental or wrongful death.
Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against a wide variety of people, companies, government agencies, and employees (unless they are immune). For example, if there is a commercial truck accident that involves a drunk truck driver and a faulty roadway, then the wrongful death lawsuit could be brought against:
- The truck driver responsible for the accident
- The drunk driver’s place of employment if they knowingly hired someone with a history of drug or alcohol abuse
- The government agency who failed to put up road signs for the hazardous road conditions
- If the driver was already impaired while purchasing additional alcohol, then the seller could be considered liable, as well
To find out who may be considered liable for your wrongful death action, consult with a Surprise, Arizona, lawyer as soon as possible. They can start the process of investigating your claim by interviewing any witnesses and gathering video or photos of the scene. With this evidence and their knowledge of Arizona personal injury law, they’ll be in a position to argue your case in court and increase your chances of winning full compensation for your losses.
How can I file a claim for accidental death?
When it comes to filing a claim for wrongful death, the more distant the familial relationship is, the less likely it is that a court will allow them to collect damages for their losses. Arizona law limits the parties who may file a wrongful death claim, so it cannot be filed by aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, grandparents, or divorced spouses of the deceased.
Because of this, most wrongful death lawsuits are filed by a representative of the deceased’s estates on behalf of their close family members. In addition to spouses being able to file a claim for the loss of their partner, parents of children can file an action if one of their children passes away. Minors can also receive compensation following the death of their parents.
In Arizona, a claim can only be filed by the following:
- The husband or wife of the deceased
- Children of the deceased (either natural born or adopted)
- Parents of the deceased (this includes natural parents, adoptive parents, or legal guardians)
- Estate representative for the deceased
In most cases, the accidental death lawsuit is filed by one party who then accused a person, company, or government agency of being responsible for their loved one’s death, either through negligence or intentional malice. However, there are cases where there may be more than one plaintiff filing a claim against the same person or entity. For example, if a product malfunction results in the death of multiple people across the state, then all surviving family members may file a lawsuit against the manufacturing company.
How can I win my wrongful death lawsuit or settlement?
Similar to personal injury cases, when filing a wrongful death action, you’ll have to prove the the incident occurred due to the negligence or malice of another party. In cases involving negligence, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached their “duty of care” and this action was the direct cause of death.
“Duty of care” is a legal term that means someone was legally obligated to adhere to a reasonable standard of care towards another person. For example, if a medical professional is working in a nursing home and they neglect their duties, leading to the death of someone in their care, this means they did not adhere to their duty and are therefore responsible.
Once you’re in court, the judge will decide whether a duty of care was owed to the deceased, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, your lawyer will be able to tell you whether they think negligence or “duty of care” affects your lawsuit. The steps of determining this are outlined below:
Proving Duty for the Defendant
The first step to proving whether someone has “duty of care” is to determine whether or not they should have been considered responsible for the deceased’s safety and well-being. While this can be a bit easier to determine for cases of medical malpractice or product liability, proving that someone had a duty to keep another person safe can become complex.
One example of this would be in a car or trucking accident case. The plaintiff could allege that the other driver was being negligent and they had the duty of driving safely and responsibly while on the road. But if the defendant claims that the deceased party was also driving recklessly, then the plaintiff’s attorney will have to present the judge with additional evidence to prove neglect on the part of the defendant.
Proving Breach of Duty for the Defendant
If the Arizona state judge agrees that the defendant did have a duty to avoid or prevent any harm to the deceased to the best of their ability, the next step would be proving that the defendant breached this duty. If the plaintiff’s attorney is able to provide evidence that the driver was texting while driving during the collision, then they could prove that the defendant breached their duty of care.
The next step would be to prove causation, meaning that the plaintiff’s lawyer must prove that the defendant’s negligent accident directly lead to the wrongful death. If the car crash resulted in the immediate death of their loved one, or if the loved one suffered severe injuries from the crash and passed away at a later date, then this is clear evidence that the actions of the texting driver led to the death.
Proving Damages Caused by the Accident
The final step for the wrongful death case would be proving that the plaintiff suffered damages from the resulting accident and death of the loved one. This does not mean personal injuries, though the plaintiff may have suffered non-fatal injuries if they were also involved in the accident.
Damages can include the financial expenses that resulted from the accident, such as medical costs, funeral expenses, or loss wages if the surviving family member depending on their loved one’s income. The plaintiff may also be able to recover damages for any emotional pain and suffering they experience as a result of the death.
What type of compensation can I receive for my wrongful death case?
Once you’ve spoken to your Surprise, Arizona, lawyer about your wrongful death lawsuit, you should have a clear idea of what you should expect from the case and how much they feel your wrongful death case may be worth. In addition to holding the negligent party responsible for their actions, you can recover costs for the damage they’ve caused and the emotional and financial toll this unexpected loss has had on your live.
The court may calculate the amount of compensation the plaintiff receives based on the following:
- Whether the plaintiff was dependant on the deceased’s income
- The nature of the relationship between the plaintiff and the deceased
- Earning and benefits the family receive prior to the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Any medical costs the deceased’s surviving family members may have incurred as a result of the accident
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of expected income
- Loss of care and guidance for any children involved
- Loss of consortium
While a judge will make the ultimate decision of how much compensation you will receive for your case, your attorney can offer a clear idea of what damages you’ll be able to recover prior to your first day in court. By investigating the circumstances surrounding your accident and using the knowledge of past wrongful death and personal injury cases, attorneys like Nathaniel B. Preston of Warnock MacKinlay Law have the resources and experience needed to ensure you receive as much compensation as possible for your financial and emotional well-being.
What is loss of consortium?
For your wrongful death action, you may be awarded compensation for “loss of consortium”. This means that your family receives compensation for the deprivation of any familial benefits they may have enjoyed had their loved one survived the incident. While these claims are usually filed by the deceased’s spouse, a dependant child can also seek compensation for the personal loss they suffer from losing a parent.
For wrongful death actions filed in the state of Arizona, loss of consortium claims are not handled as part of separate cases, but are included in the existing lawsuit. You may want to include this claim as part of your lawsuit, but be sure to discuss this option with your lawyer beforehand.
In order for a loss of consortium claim to be successful, you must be able to prove that you’re losing a familial benefit – not a financial one. If your relationship with the deceased was strained or involved abuse, then the defendant’s lawyer may argue that this type of compensation is not needed.
Should I settle my wrongful death claim?
A strong majority of accidental death cases are not handled in a courtroom. Most are settled outside of court because the negligent party wants to avoid a public trial where they will not be able to negotiate the amount of compensation they award the grieving party.
If you have been presented with the option to settle your case instead of filing a lawsuit, then you need to consider the amount your lawsuit could be worth and the amount of supporting evidence you have to support your claim. Both of these questions can be answered in full with the help of your Arizona wrongful death attorney. While the final decision to settle your case is up to you, they can review the settlement offer to make sure it’s fair compensation for your losses.
Receive a Consultation for Your Wrongful Death Case in Surprise, Arizona
Don’t wait until it’s too late to receive fair and full compensation for the losses caused by your loved one’s death. You can take the first step toward receiving justice for your family and holding the negligent parties responsible by hiring Nathaniel B. Preston of Warnock MacKinlay Law for your wrongful death action. Our number is (602) 652-2009.
The state of Arizona has a two-year limit for filing a wrongful death claim. This means you’ll want a lawyer to start preparing your case as soon as possible. Nathaniel has successfully handled a number of wrongful death, personal injury and car accident lawsuits in the Surprise, Arizona and the surrounding area. Let him use this experience to ensure you recover the damages you deserve.