After the death of a loved one, the last thing you want to be thinking about is filing a criminal lawsuit. It is a difficult time for friends and family to come to terms with a loved one passing away. However, if someone was responsible for the death through some negligent or reckless action, they need to be held accountable so that it never happens again. A wrongful death claim can hold the responsible party liable for the death, and compensate the family for the untimely death of a loved one.
Arizona Wrongful Death Claims
Under A.R.S. § 12-611, “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.”
A wrongful act, neglect or default could involve any number of incidents. Such negligent actions occur all the time and are a common cause of death. For example, wrongful death could result from a nursing home not properly caring for a patient, a doctor committing malpractice during surgery, or a drunk driver hitting a child in the street.
In some cases, an insurance company may get involved if the responsible party is insured for accidents or injuries. However, it is important to understand who the insurance company works for, and what their interests are. If you are contacted by an insurance representative after the death of a loved, you should refer them to your attorney. They may try and get you to settle your claim for as little as they can. Let your attorney deal with the insurance company so you can concentrate on what is truly important.
Wrongful Death Damages
While nothing can bring back a loved one who was killed in an accident, a wrongful death claim allows the surviving family to seek some relief from the individuals responsible.
The law allows surviving family members, such as a spouse, surviving children, parents, or a personal representative of the deceased individual to file a claim for damages. If there is more than one plaintiff, any damages will be distributed in proportion to the damages suffered. See A.R.S. § 12-612.
According to Arizona statute, “the jury shall give such damages as it deems fair.” Damages for a wrongful death lawsuit can include the costs related to the loved one's death, such as funeral expenses, burial costs, and medical bills. However, it also provides damages for the surviving family members through compensating pain, suffering, and the economic loss suffered as a result of the untimely death. See A.R.S. § 12-613.