Arizona Revised Statutes Sections 12-611, 12-612, and 12-613 answer three major questions about wrongful death claims in Arizona:
- When can a wrongful death claim be filed in Arizona?
- Who can file an Arizona wrongful death lawsuit?
- What damages are available in an Arizona wrongful death claim?
Here, we’ll summarize the answers each of these statutes provides to these three questions in order to provide an overview of state law on wrongful death claims. For answers to specific questions, however, you will need to consult an Arizona lawyer with experience handling wrongful death claims.
WHEN CAN A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM BE FILED?
Section 12-611 of the Arizona Revised Statutes allows a wrongful death claim to be filed when the death was caused by a “wrongful act, neglect or default” that would have supported a personal injury claim if the deceased person had lived.
One way to think about wrongful death claims, then, is to think of them as personal injury claims in which the injury proved fatal. Because the injured person is no longer capable of bringing his or her own claim to court, other parties must bring that claim instead.
This section also notes that a wrongful death claim may be filed even if “the death was caused under such circumstances as amount in law to murder in the first or second degree or manslaughter.” Since a wrongful death claim becomes more complex if criminal charges are also proceeding, it’s best to consult an attorney.
WHO CAN FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT IN ARIZONA?
Under Section 12-612, only specific survivors may file a wrongful death claim. These include:
- A spouse,
- A child,
- A parent or guardian,
- The legal representative of any of the above.
If a person dies without a spouse, child, or living parent or guardian, their estate may bring the claim to court. Their siblings, other relatives, or common-law spouse, however, may not.
WHAT DAMAGES ARE AVAILABLE IN ARIZONA FOR A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
Wrongful death damages are subject to the rules of Section 12-613. This section gives juries broad latitude to award damages they find “fair and just with reference to the injury.” However, the court will consider a number of factors when evaluating damages, including:
- Were the survivors financially dependent on the deceased person?
- What were the past earnings of the deceased person? What were their likely future earnings?
- How much did medical, funeral, and burial services cost?
- How did the loss impact the surviving family members emotionally, and how should that loss be valued in financial terms?
A wrongful death suit in Arizona has only one named plaintiff, even if multiple family members exist to file the claim. The one named person represents the group, and under Section 12-612, the court has the power to divide up the total damages award among the survivors “in proportion” to their losses.
The sudden death of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence can turn your world upside-down. An experienced Arizona wrongful death attorney can help you put things right again. To learn more, contact Folger Law today for a free case evaluation.