Phoenix Wrongful Death Lawyers
CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH A PHOENIX WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER FOR FREE
The passing of a loved one is never easy. If, however, the death was due to the negligence of another, it may be even harder to accept. Though no amount of monetary compensation can bring back your loved one, you may want to consider filing a wrongful death claim if you believe that the death of your loved one was due to another’s negligent actions.
If you or your loved one seeks to file a wrongful death claim and have any questions regarding it, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our Phoenix wrongful death lawyers.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
According to Arizona’s wrongful death statute, a “spouse, child, parent or estate of a decedent may bring a wrongful death action if an act or omission that would justify a personal injury lawsuit causes the death of a family member.” This simply means that if the deceased family member could have filed a personal injury lawsuit if he or she was still alive, a spouse, child, parent, or estate of the deceased family member could file a lawsuit on behalf of him or her.
In certain situations, a wrongful death claim may be based on strict liability. Strict liability means that the party responsible for the accident may be at fault even if he or she may not have been negligent or intended to cause the accident. An example of a situation in which strict liability applies is for death caused by a defective product.
Should I Get a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Because the laws governing wrongful death claims can be complex, you may wish to hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer. Not only will an experienced wrongful death lawyer relieve you from having to deal with the legal intricacies, but you will also have more time to grieve and spend time on things that really matter. Furthermore, having a lawyer may give you greater leverage when dealing with parties responsible for the death of your loved one.
Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case
Common Wrongful Death Cases
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, around 130,000 motor vehicle accidents occurred in 2018, with around 1,000 fatalities. Though car accidents occur for many reasons, nearly all of these reasons have something to do with the negligent behavior of a driver.
For instance, many car accidents occur due to a driver who is under the influence of alcohol. Though Arizona law prohibits drivers from drinking and driving, many drivers nevertheless drink alcohol before driving. If a driver who drives under the influence ends up killing another driver or a pedestrian, the victim’s family member may be able to sue the driver.
Sometimes, to save time and money, truck driver employers do not train their drivers or even vet them. Thus, some truck drivers drive recklessly, and, as a result, fatal accidents occur. Sometimes, the employer may be at fault for deaths by not is at fault for not maintaining its fleet of trucks.
Read More: Phoenix Truck Accident Lawyers
Though Arizona has passed a workers’ compensation act that prevents individuals and their family members from suing employers in the case of a workplace injury or death, there are some exceptions to this law. For example, if the workplace was so unreasonably dangerous that it was negligent to allow people to work there, the employer may be liable for damages beyond those covered by workers’ compensation.
Family members of a deceased worker may also have a successful wrongful death lawsuit against third parties, such as the manufacturer of a defective product that caused their loved one’s death.
When a patient dies due to a doctor’s negligence, the patient’s family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit based on medical malpractice. For instance, a doctor may make a misdiagnosis, resulting in the patient receiving a wrong and potentially harmful treatment. Additionally, a surgeon could make a wrong incision, causing permanent damage to the patient. In other medical malpractice cases, death may result. In such cases, family members of the deceased patient may sue the doctor or even the hospital.
Consumer goods are not always properly vetted. In some cases, a defective product can cause death. For instance, a consumer buys an electronic appliance, but perhaps because of faulty wiring, the appliance catches fire and kills the consumer.
Electronic appliances are not the only consumer goods that can cause death to their users. Faulty airbags and medical equipment also can cause death. Family members may sue the company that made the defective product.
There are many laws that require a building owner or a landlord to make his or her premises safe for people who visit or dwell. Yet there are many cases in which the building owner or landowner neglects their premises, causing death to visitors or tenants. For example, a landlord may not have installed proper lighting in his building, and a tenant consequently trips while climbing the stairs and dies. In such cases, family members of the deceased may sue the building owner or landlord.
What to Do After an Accidental Death
After the death of a loved one, you should always make time to grieve.
2. Settle the Deceased’s Affairs
This may include planning a funeral and arranging the deceased’s estate.
3. Call a Lawyer
If you are thinking about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, call an experienced lawyer and discuss your situation to get an idea about how to proceed.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
To win a wrongful death lawsuit, you generally must prove that the individual that caused the death was negligent. To prove that the individual was negligent, you must show that the individual owed a legal duty, that the legal duty was breached, that the breach of the duty caused the death, and that the death caused monetary loss.
To give an example, imagine that a driver kills another driver because he was drunk. A claimant would state the following in his or her lawsuit:
- First, that the defendant driver owed a duty to exercise caution while driving
- Second, that the driver breached this duty by driving while under the influence
- Third, that the driver’s drunk driving caused the death
- And finally, that the accident caused injury. Usually, the fact that the decedent died is enough to meet this element.
Determining Who Is at Fault
In a previous section, we listed the different types of wrongful death cases. Though each case is different in terms of facts, in every case, a wrongful death claimant must show that the party it sues was negligent.
For a claim based on a car or truck accident, the claimant must show that the defendant driver was negligent by engaging in unreasonably dangerous behavior, such as texting while driving.
In a workplace accident, the claimant will usually recover through workers’ compensation. On the rare occasion that you may sue the employer directly, you must show the employer acted willfully.
In medical malpractice claims, the claimant must show that the health care provider was negligent by perhaps making an incorrect diagnosis that led to the death of your loved one.
Defective product cases must prove that the design or manufacture of the product was defective and there was no reasonable alternative design.
In a premises liability case, the claimant must show that the owner of the premises failed to make safe or warn of dangerous conditions on their property.
Possible Compensation from a Wrongful Death Suit
Two general categories of compensations are available: economic and non-economic.
The first category includes monetary compensation for:
- The value of financial support family members would have received if the deceased were still alive
- The value of household services the deceased would have contributed to if he or she was still alive
- The medical expenses related to the deceased’s death
- The funeral and burial expenses, and
- The deceased’s wages and benefits
The second category includes compensation to compensate for the loss of companionship, mental and emotional distress, and other intangible losses.
Statute of Limitations
Every state places a statute of limitations, or time limits, on lawsuits. In Arizona, if you wish to file a wrongful death claim, you have two years from the date of death of your loved one to file the claim. Be sure to note that you have two years after the death to file a claim. If your loved one suffered injuries from a car accident but did not succumb to his or her injuries until a year after the accident, you have two years after the actual death to file a lawsuit, not from the date of the car accident. An experienced attorney may help you determine when the statute of limitations period started running and ensure that you file your lawsuit before time runs out.
CONTACT A PHOENIX WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER
The experienced Phoenix attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you with your wrongful death lawsuit. You and your family should not have to go through this challenging time alone. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.