The US Department of Justice reports that 90% of all wrongful death lawsuits initiated are related to medical malpractice caused by a medical professional’s negligence. In 2006, the Institute of Medicine reported that one of the biggest contributors to wrongful death cases was prescription errors.
Wrongful death cases are not just about medical malpractice; there are various reasons why a person may have a claim. According to the US Department of Transportation, there were over 37,000 wrongful death suits initiated in 2008. Wrongful death suits fall under the “personal injury” case umbrella, because the death was caused by someone else’s negligence.
In Arizona, an action for wrongful death may be brought by the surviving husband or wife, or personal representative of the deceased person on behalf of the decedent’s estate. If a minor is the deceased person, then one or both parents are legally eligible to file a wrongful death suit against the person responsible for the death.
How Arizona law defines “wrongful death”
In Arizona, the legal definition of “wrongful death” is a death that is caused by a wrongful act, by neglect or default. According to A.R.S. Section 12-611, a wrongful death suit may be initiated if the deceased person would have been able to file their own personal injury suit if they had not lost their life. That means that to initiate a wrongful death suit, there needs to be evidence that the deceased person’s death was caused directly by someone else’s negligence.
Wrongful death suits are brought in civil court, and the survivors are entitled to monetary damages. Depending on the type of claim initiated, damages for wrongful death can include:
- The value of household services the deceased person is no longer able to provide;
- The loss of the deceased persons love, affection, guidance, companionship, and care;
- Any pain and suffering on behalf of the family members due to the loss of their loved one;
- Medical bills, including any treatments required for the emergency care that they received during their final treatment;
- Burial and funeral expenses;
- The amount of wages and benefits that the deceased person would have earned had they not died;
The type of damages that a family member can seek according to Arizona’s wrongful death laws depends on the relationship that the plaintiff had to the deceased person. What a child would be able to recover versus a spouse is different. If there is more than one family member in the wrongful death suit, then the family members themselves must decide how to distribute the money awarded among the family members.
There is no greater loss than the loss of a loved one, especially if the death was untimely and unnecessary. If you lost someone due to someone else’s negligence, the Folger Law Firm can help guide you through the complexities of recovering financially for all that you have lost. You can’t bring your loved one back, but with our help you can secure your financial future, and that of your family.