Wrongful Death Lawyer Phoenix, AZ
Losing a loved one is never easy, but when their death was caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another party, the loss can be devastating. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, death from unintentional injuries is the fourth leading cause of death in this country. In situations like these, Arizona law allows the victim’s family to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party, seeking damages (financial compensation) for the losses the victim’s death has suffered.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Actions:
Arizona law allows for survivors of victims killed as a result of another party’s actions or behavior to pursue a wrongful death claim against that party or parties when those actions or behaviors were negligence, reckless, intentional, or due to misconduct. Common causes of wrongful death actions include:
- Automobile accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability
- Product liability
- Slip-and-fall injuries;
- Truck accidents
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Regardless of whether or not there have been criminal charges filed against the at-fault party – such as in a drunk driving crash – a wrongful death claim is handled separately from those charges and is filed in the civil court system. The law only allows certain family members and/or estate representatives to file a wrongful death lawsuit, and there is a statute of limitations in place for how long after the victim’s death the claim must be filed by. A Phoenix, AZ, wrongful death lawyer can evaluate your case to determine if you qualify to file the claim on behalf of your loved one. In order to be successful in the claim, a wrongful death lawyer will need to prove three elements to the court/jury:
- The defendant (at-fault party) owed a duty of care to the victim. For example, in a fatal drunk driving accident, the driver had a legal obligation to all other drivers to obey all the rules of the road. Drinking and driving is against the law.
- The defendant breached the duty of care that was owed to the victim. In the above example, the driver broke the law by getting behind the wheel of their vehicle drunk.
- The defendant’s actions caused the death of the victim.
How We Can Help
As a wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, from Saavedra Law Firm, PLC knows, losing a loved one because someone acted without care is one of the most horrible things any family can go through. Not only was someone’s life lost too soon, but an individual or entity was at least partially at-fault for that happening. If you suspect this is the case for your loved one, then it is strongly advised that you speak with a lawyer immediately for guidance.
- Loss of Consortium: Depending on the state, the plaintiff in the wrongful death lawsuit can claim loss of consortium (otherwise called loss of companionship). When someone loses a spouse, particularly at the hands of another, they can experience severe and agonizing emotional trauma. Monetary compensation for the loss of consortium seeks to provide the loved one with the resources they need to overcome the unexpected loss.
- Loss of Future Wages: Children and surviving spouses can pursue compensation for loss of future wages. If the family member who passed away had provided for the family unit monetarily, then those relatives are likely to endure serious financial hardship. Loss of future wages aims to give spouses or children the financial support they had lost because of the wrongful death.
- Burial and Funeral Costs: Families who have lost a cherished relative may not have the mental energy to find the best fiscal value for burial and funeral costs. Understandably, they are grieving their loss and are just trying to get through each day. Wrongful death cases often include costs for laying the loved one to rest.
- Pain and Suffering: Some victims of wrongful death were not only fatally injured but also went through grueling pain and suffering. Restitution may be awarded to surviving loved ones for the victim’s pain and suffering, in addition to medical expenses that were incurred from emergency care, treatment, hospitalization, etc. An Arizona wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix is ready to offer assistance for your family today.
Civil Suit vs. Criminal Charges
You may have heard the term “wrongful death” before, and if you have more questions, a wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona, will provide all the information you need about your own case. While any preventable death is a tragedy, some are handled differently than others, and it’s important to learn all you can about your case before filing a suit.
When it comes to wrongful death, there are typically two ways the responsible party may be punished for their actions. Some wrongful deaths result in criminal charges and some result in civil suits. Some end in both. The legal options available to you depend on the circumstances and what your lawyer can tell you about your case.
- Criminal Charges: Criminal charges are filed by the state against the offending party. If someone acted with gross negligence that led to the death of someone else, they could face jail time and other state-mandated punishments. When an accidental death leads to criminal charges, it’s called manslaughter, and the responsible party could face imprisonment and fines. While manslaughter charges can bring the family of the deceased some much-needed justice and closure, criminal charges don’t usually result in financial reparations. In some cases, the responsible party may need to pay the court or state a fine, but the money doesn’t usually go to the family or friends of the person who died. If you’re seeking financial compensation, you’ll need to open a civil suit – and a wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, can help.
- Civil Suits: The term “wrongful death” is reserved for civil suits. Unlike criminal charges, there’s no risk of jail time for the offending party. Instead of being filed by the state, the charges in a wrongful death suit are filed by the estate of the deceased. This can include family and friends. Civil suits can result in financial compensation for the members of the estate.
A wrongful death means lots of surprise payments and fees. You may have to pay medical bills, funerary expenses, and all the fees associated with dividing an estate and managing the will left behind by your close friend or family member. This financial pressure can be a major obstacle, and it can make grieving for your loss even more difficult. It’s important to get proper compensation for the untimely loss of a loved one, and a wrongful death lawyer can help.
Losing a loved one is never easy, but when their death was a result of a vehicle or other type of accident caused by someone else’s negligence, that loss can be devastating. Not only is there deep sorrow and grief a family must work through, but there is often a great financial impact the family must also contend with, especially if that loved one was the primary financial support for the family. There are also medical bills that may have been incurred trying to save the victim’s life, as well as funeral and burial expenses. All of these financial burdens can be overwhelming for a family already dealing with the grieving process. If you have lost a loved one in an accident, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party under Arizona law. A wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, can evaluate your case and discuss what legal options you may have.
What Type of Compensation Can Families Receive?
Wrongful death lawsuits are legal actions that are handled in civil court. Depending on the situation, the case may also go through the criminal court if the person’s actions warrant repercussions on a criminal level too. When a fault is shown in a wrongful death case, the family members receive financial compensation. The court may award damages such as medical costs, funeral expenses, lost income, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and more.
In some cases, there may be criminal charges also filed against the at-fault party, such as in a DUI crash, but that is not always the case. This is why wrongful death lawsuits are sometimes the only chance a family has of obtaining any kind of justice for their loved one’s death, even if it is just through the civil court system. The compensation a family may receive in a loved one’s wrongful death lawsuit will depend on the circumstances of the case. Some of the more common damages a Phoenix, AZ wrongful death lawyer can seek on the family’s behalf include:
- Medical expenses for lifesaving attempts for the victim after the accident
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of the victim’s income and benefits, including future income
- Loss of companionship the victim provided in the marriage
- Loss of love and guidance the victim provided for children
- Loss of services the victim provided for their family (i.e. household chores, childcare, home maintenance, etc.)
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Case
A wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, from Saavedra Law Firm, PLC, knows that it’s difficult enough having to deal with the passing of a loved one due to illness or old age. But when a cherished person is killed due to another’s carelessness, it can be absolutely devastating to the entire family. As a surviving relative, you may have recourse in this situation. To redress the untimely death of your family member and seek some kind of justice, it may be warranted to bring a lawsuit against the offending party.
Wrongful death is defined as someone’s failure to act with a level of care, where someone else of similar person and circumstances would not have acted in the same way. Essentially, an individual or facility who acts recklessly, causing harm to a person or damage to property, may have to pay compensation to the victim and/or surviving loved ones. Negligence is at the center of all personal injury cases, including wrongful death lawsuits.
How To Prove Negligence
Firstly, you must get yourself a lawyer who is well-versed in handling wrongful death cases. By choosing a lawyer without experience specifically in personal injury law, you may be doing yourself a great disservice, and it could ultimately impact the final verdict. As your Phoenix, AZ wrongful death lawyer from Saavedra Law Firm, PLC lawyer may tell you, there are four elements that have to be shown in order to have a chance at winning the case:
- Duty: The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff (under the circumstances of wrongful death or personal injury).
- Breach: This duty of care had been breached by the defendant’s behavior or lack of action.
- Causation: The breach in duty of care led to indirect or direct injury/damage.
- Damages: There are quantifiable damages that resulted from the breach.
If not all these aspects can be proven, then the plaintiff has less of a strong case. If you aren’t sure whether your loved one’s death happened because of another’s influence but suspect that may be the case, then contact a lawyer now.
The Do’s and Don’ts of a Wrongful Death Case
- Do Contact A Wrongful Death Lawyer: If you feel that your loved one died because of the actions or negligence of someone else, you should call a wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, to help. There are often many complicated details in a wrongful death case. It can be overwhelming trying to process all of this information alone. A legal professional is trained to evaluate the details of your loved one’s passing to establish whether or not the responsibility for the death falls on another party. Our legal team at Saavedra Law Firm, PLC will answer your questions and help you better understand this difficult situation.
- Do Keep Detailed Records: If you decide that you are going to pursue a wrongful death case on the behalf of your loved one, it will be your responsibility to obtain and maintain medical records. These medical records will be vital evidence in your case. A wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, will need to review any medical records pertaining to the death.
- Do Protect Your Mental Health During This Time: Pursuing any type of legal action can be stressful. If this comes shortly after the passing of a loved one while you are still grieving, your mental health may begin to suffer. Remember that you are taking on an important but stressful task. Your mental health should be a priority. If you feel that you are struggling, it is a good idea to connect with a counselor or a therapist. They can help you navigate the feelings and challenges you are experiencing at this time.
- Don’t Discuss The Case With The Responsible Party: In some cases, the responsible party or their insurance company may approach an individual or a family and attempt to offer a settlement. These types of settlements rarely hold the responsible parties truly accountable for what was done. This is especially true if a doctor or a hospital is the suspected responsible party. Wrongful death cases can sometimes be instrumental in bringing about important changes in how doctors or hospitals operate. This cannot be accomplished out of court, and others could still be negatively affected by malpractice or unsafe conditions. To hold the responsible parties truly accountable, you will want to have a wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, on your side. They will be able to advise you on what is a truly just outcome for your case.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In the majority of wrongful death lawsuits, it is the at-fault party’s insurance company that is representing that party’s interests. For example, in a fatal car accident, it is the at-fault driver’s vehicle liability insurance company that will be negotiating and paying any settlement or award. The same is true for a medical malpractice case – it is the doctor’s or other medical professional’s malpractice insurance company that represents the doctor.
This is one of the strongest reasons why a family should never represent themselves or even speak with the at-fault party’s insurance company without first speaking with a Phoenix, AZ, wrongful death lawyer. The insurance company will do all it can to either deny the claim or pay far less than what the family deserves. Having an attorney advocating for you will ensure that your best interests are protected.
Every state sets its own laws as far as who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and how long they have to do so (referred to as the statute of limitations). In most cases, the spouse of the victim is entitled to file a lawsuit. If the victim was not married, their children – both adult and minor – are able to file the lawsuit. If the victim did not have children or was a minor child, their parents are entitled to file and pursue legal action. In some situations, a representative of the victim’s estate will file the lawsuit, and any amount of financial compensation that is awarded is then distributed among the victim’s heirs or beneficiaries.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
There are a number of losses that a victim’s family can be compensated for. Any funeral or burial expenses that were incurred become part of the damages that an at-fault party could be found liable for. There are also non-economic damages that a family may be entitled to. The loss of the victim’s love, guidance, and companionship can all be included in a wrongful death lawsuit. So too, can the emotional trauma and grief that family members must deal with over the tragic and untimely death of the victim. There is also the financial loss the family now faces, especially if the victim was the primary breadwinner, as well as the loss of services. For example, if the parent was a stay-at-home parent because the couple’s children were young, the surviving spouse will now need to make arrangements for childcare and other services the victim provided their family. These are all future costs that a wrongful death lawsuit award can compensate a family for.
Contact Our Office
At Saavedra Law Firm, PLC, we understand no amount of money will ever make up for the loss of your loved one, but we also understand that sometimes financial justice is the only justice available to a grieving family. Call our office today to speak with a Phoenix, AZ, wrongful death lawyer and find out how we can help.
If you recently lost a family member because of another’s negligence, then you may hold the right to seek restitution from the liable party. Our lawyer can assess your vase and inform you of your options. We know how to seek fair and just compensation for our clients, who have already been through so much. Let us help take the weight off your shoulders. Call Saavedra Law Firm, PLC, to speak with a wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona now.
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