When your loved one is taken away from you after a fatal accident that involved a reckless driver or a negligent act, recovering emotionally will take some time. While you and your family go through the grieving process of such a premature loss, focusing on legal requirements and procedures may be the furthest thing from your minds.
Coupled with little or no experience with the legal system, you may not know your rights to a wrongful death claim. Unfamiliar terminology and legal standards may cause you to compromise remedies to this devastating loss.
No amount of money can bring your loved one back, but assistance from a Phoenix wrongful death attorney can protect your rights to receive compensation.
How Wrongful Death is Defined in Phoenix
In the state of Arizona, wrongful death is defined as a death caused by a “wrongful act, neglect or default. A claim can be filed with the court if the deceased person would have been able to file a personal injury case based on the conduct that led to this or her death.
Some situations exist where the wrongful death claim is based on strict liability, which is liability without fault. Disregarding a public safety statute is an example of applying this doctrine. Causing injury or death by violating a public safety statute can lead to the person or entity being strictly liable. The circumstances surrounding the incident are taken into consideration.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in Phoenix
Time is of the essence if you are considering filing a wrongful death claim. Like all state, there is a statute of limitations in Phoenix, Arizona to file the lawsuit, which limits the amount of time you have to file the claim with the court.
In Arizona, you have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death case. Not filing the case within this time frame means the court will likely refuse to hear any arguments on your behalf. Therefore, it is critical that you comply with the state law deadline to preserve your legal rights.
Persons Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim
In addition to the time you have to file a claim, state laws limit who may file a wrongful death claim in civil court. The relationship to the deceased person determines who may file the claim:
• Surviving spouse
• Surviving child or children
• Surviving parent or legal guardian
• Representative of spouse, child, parent or legal guardian
• Representative of the estate
When the deceased person is a minor, either the parents or legal guardian may file the claim on behalf of the child.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Financial and monetary losses are used to determine damages in a wrongful death claim that is filed in Phoenix. This is a key difference between a wrongful death case and a criminal case due to a homicide.
In the wrongful death case, you will bring your case before a civil court. Liability is based solely on money damages. For a criminal case, the state brings a case to criminal court. The person charged with homicide and liability is expressed with a prison sentence and/or other penalties.
There are two categories for damages in a wrongful death case. In the first category, losses on your loved one’s estate as a result of his or her death are considered. Damages are usually paid to the state and may include:
• Expenses for the funeral and burial
• All medical bills related to final treatment
• Lost wages and benefits your loved one would have earned had he or she lived
• Repairs or replacement of property that may have been damaged during the event that led to the death
• Pain and suffering your loved one endured before dying
For the second category of damages, the focus is usually on how family members have suffered because of the untimely death. Damages paid directly to family members can include:
• Lost value of services your love one contributed to the household
• Loss of companionship, care and guidance
• Pain and suffering as a result of the untimely death
Specific damages in a Phoenix wrongful death claim will depend on who has taken the claim to court. An example of this is when a child or spouse of your deceased loved one seeks damages for loss of companionship and care. If a claim is filed by the estate, damages cannot be recovered by that type of loss.
As a family member, the damages that you will receive from a Phoenix wrongful death case must be divided among other family members. The court does not get involved unless everyone cannot agree. If the court has to apportion the damages, the decision becomes final and binding for all parties.
Contact Our Phoenix Wrongful Death Attorneys
Dealing with the untimely death of a loved one is stressful. Having to worry about someone not being held accountable increases this stress. We understand and are here to help. Contact our Phoenix law office to schedule a free consultation. Our skilled attorneys will answer your questions and evaluate your claim.
Expect compassionate, attentive care from attorneys who are prepared to win for you and the memory of your loved one.