If a loved one dies an untimely death due to another person or entity’s negligence or misconduct, you may be able to sue for wrongful death. A wrongful death action is a civil lawsuit that is wholly distinct from a criminal charge. In other words, you can hold a negligent person responsible for your loved one’s death even if the negligent person was not found criminally responsible. The standard of proof is lower in civil lawsuits than it is in criminal cases. Phoenix wrongful death lawyer Freddy Saavedra understands the turmoil that a family may be going through in these situations, and he can take the legal burden off your shoulders.
Wrongful Death Claims
In Arizona, a wrongful death is a death caused by another party’s default, neglect, or wrongful act. Under Arizona Revised Statute section 12-611, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought if the decedent could have sued for their personal injuries based on negligence or intentional wrongdoing had they survived. You have a restricted time within which to sue for wrongful death; the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the decedent’s death. If you do not file within this time, you will likely be barred from having your case heard at all.
Only certain people can sue for wrongful death. Specifically, the people who are allowed to sue after someone passes away are the surviving spouse of the decedent, surviving children of the decedent, and a surviving guardian or parent of the decedent. If the decedent is a child, the child’s legal guardian or parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit for the child.
In most wrongful death cases, liability is predicated on the defendant’s negligence. A wrongful death attorney in the Phoenix area will need to show that the defendant owed a duty of care, but there was a breach of duty, causation, and damages. For example, if your husband was killed in a truck accident because the truck driver was driving drunk and had a history of doing so, you may be able to establish the truck driver’s negligence and the trucking company’s negligent supervision. You could hold them liable for wrongful death.
Arizona follows the doctrine of comparative negligence. That means that the damages will be reduced by an amount equal to the decedent’s percentage of fault, if any. The jury will evaluate the total damages and assign a percentage of fault to the decedent and the defendant or defendants. For example, if your husband was partially responsible for the truck accident because he was driving at an excessive speed, and the jury determines that he was 20% at fault for the accident, and the damages are $1 million, you may be able to recover $800,000 for the wrongful death.
If your Phoenix wrongful death attorney can establish liability, you can recover wrongful death damages. These include losses that the estate sustained and losses sustained by the decedent’s surviving family members. The estate can usually recover funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost wages and benefits, property replacement or repair, and pain and suffering felt by the decedent prior to dying. Family members may be able to recover damages for loss of care and companionship, lost household services, and pain and suffering sustained due to the loved one’s death. Survivors usually need to determine how the damages will be divided among themselves, but they can ask the court to determine apportionment, in which case they will be bound by the court’s decision.
Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Nothing can make up for the loss of a loved one, but often, after a loved one’s death, grief and practical considerations combine. It may be hard to know how you will pay your bills or find alternative sources of support. You should consult an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix if your loved one died as a result of negligence. Attorney Freddy Saavedra handles wrongful death lawsuits for people throughout Maricopa County. Call us at 602-753-8917 or complete our online form for a free consultation.