Phoenix Wrongful Death Attorney
Accidents happen every day in Arizona. Many of these result in injuries that, while life-changing, are not life-threatening. Some accidents, however, cause injuries that prove fatal.
When you’ve lost a loved one due to an accident, your world turns upside-down in an instant. You’re forced to deal with mounting bills, support other loved ones, and keep your household together, while also carrying the burden of your own grief. You know that what happened was wrong, but you may wonder where to start looking for help.
At Folger Law, our Phoenix attorneys have helped many people obtain compensation through a wrongful death claim. We recognize how difficult this time is for our clients, and we strive to help you understand what happened and reclaim both the dignity and the support you deserve.
How Does Arizona Define Wrongful Death?
Arizona’s Revised Statutes contain three sections on wrongful death claims. The first, Section 12-611, defines wrongful death as a death caused by a “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of the kind that would have supported a personal injury claim if the person had lived.
What does this mean? Simply put, a wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury claim, in which the plaintiff’s injuries proved fatal. Wrongful death cases thus have several elements in common with personal injury claims. For instance, the party who brings the claim must prove that the defendant was negligent and that the defendant’s negligence caused the death.
Because the injured person is no longer able to bring his or her own claim to court, certain other parties must file the claim instead. These parties are also listed in Arizona’s statutes.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim in Arizona?
Arizona allows only certain people to file a wrongful death claim, and Section 12-612 of the Revised Statutes lists these individuals.
Generally speaking, a person may bring a wrongful death case to court if they are:
- the spouse of the deceased person,
- the child of the deceased person,
- a parent or guardian of the deceased person.
In some situations, a person who loses their life may have no spouse, children, parent, or guardian to bring the claim to court. When this happens, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may file the claim.
When considering how to pursue a Phoenix wrongful death case, it’s helpful to understand the difference between a wrongful death case and a criminal charge for homicide. Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits. This means that the spouse, child, parent/guardian, or personal representative must file the case in court directly (or through an attorney). It also means that if the claim succeeds, the defendant will be expected to pay money damages.
In a criminal case, by contrast, charges are filed by the prosecuting attorney, and if the defendant is found guilty, he or she may be required to serve a jail or prison term, pay restitution, and meet other requirements.
Some wrongful death situations give rise to both a civil and a criminal case. While you can file a wrongful death claim while criminal investigations or charges are pending on the same matter, it’s wise to work closely with an experienced Phoenix wrongful death attorney, since the two cases can complicate one another in certain ways. Your lawyer will know how to anticipate any challenges and act to minimize or avoid them.
What Damages Might I Receive If I Win a Phoenix Wrongful Death Claim?
Arizona law is less specific about the type and amount of damages available in a wrongful death claim. Section 12-613 of the Revised Statutes requires a jury in a wrongful death claim to “give such damages as it deems fair and just” after considering the fatal injury and any “mitigating or aggravating circumstances” surrounding the act that caused that injury.
Because Arizona doesn’t restrict wrongful death damages to certain types by statute, juries typically have leeway to consider a wide range of evidence regarding the loss a family or a deceased person’s estate have suffered as a result of the untimely death.
Damages that are often awarded in successful wrongful death cases include compensation for:
- Losses suffered by the estate. These may include medical bills, repair or replacement costs for damaged property, and funeral and burial expenses.
- Losses experienced by the family. Compensation in this category often includes lost wages or valuable services the deceased person would have contributed to the family if he or she had lived, as well as the family’s loss of the care, comfort, and support of their loved one.
The circumstances of each accident and death are unique. The types and amounts of damages available to the family or estate are unique as well. An experienced Phoenix wrongful death attorney can help you understand your legal options. Your lawyer will work to build your wrongful death case so that you can focus on your needs and those of your family.
To learn more, contact Folger Law today. Your initial consultation is free and confidential, and we often work on a contingency basis, which allows our clients to pay fees only if we succeed. Call us at 602-774-0033 or fill out our online contact form – whichever is more convenient for you.
Contact Folger Law today to receive the legal help you need.