When a spouse or family member passes away in a tragic accident, it can be incredibly painful and difficult to move forward. Fortunately, grieving family members can hire a wrongful death lawyer to help them hold the guilty party responsible for the loss, financial upsets, and suffering they’ve caused.
If you’ve lost someone close to you and need to take legal action, there are several important things to know about your wrongful death case. Learning more about your case can help you get the financial support you need to deal with the loss of your loved one.
Parties That Can File a Wrongful Death Suit
If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident caused by another party, it’s important to know who is eligible to pursue a wrongful death case. In Arizona, the following parties are legally allowed to file a lawsuit for wrongful death:
- A spouse
- A child
- A mother or father
- A legal guardian
Arizona law allows attorneys to represent any of the above-listed parties in a wrongful death suit. If the decedent has no surviving family members eligible to file a lawsuit, then a representative of their estate may take legal action.
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How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Prove Fault
The legal methods that an attorney uses to prove fault is one of the most important things to know about your wrongful death case. That’s because proving fault is the only way your lawyer can obtain compensation for your financial losses and emotional challenges.
To prove fault, your attorney must collect evidence that proves these four elements:
- The offending party owed your loved one a duty of care
- They failed to uphold a duty of care
- Their failure to uphold a duty of care resulted in your loved one’s death
- The incident caused economic or non-economic losses
To prove these elements, your attorney must collect evidence that’s relevant to your case. For example, if your loved one was fatally injured in a car accident, your lawyer will gather traffic camera footage, evidence from the collision scene, and the police report to prove fault.
If your attorney successfully obtains the evidence they need to prove fault, you’ll likely receive compensation.
What Damages You Could Receive from a Lawsuit
Knowing what damages you could receive from a wrongful death case is important. Learning about the forms of compensation you might receive can help you decide if a lawsuit is right for you. If your suit is successful, you could receive several or more of the following damages:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Cemetery fees
- Inherited medical bills
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of services
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
A lawyer can speak with you about your unique losses and hardships to determine which damages you’re owed. They can also assign a dollar value to intangible, non-economic losses like mental anguish and loss of consortium. Once they’ve calculated how much compensation you deserve, they’ll fight to secure a fair verdict.
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Can Wrongful Death Compensation Be Taxed?
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the compensation you receive from a wrongful death lawsuit probably won’t be taxed since the money you receive is essentially a refund for the losses you’ve incurred. However, there are some instances where awards can be subject to taxation.
For example, if you’ve put medical expenses from the deceased as a deduction on your tax returns, the money you receive for those costs can be taxed. You’ll also have to pay taxes on any punitive damages you receive from your lawsuit.
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How Long You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Arizona
If you’re pursuing a wrongful death case in Arizona, it’s of utmost importance that you know about the state’s statute of limitations. Under ARS § 12-542, you have two years from the date of your loved one’s passing to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Failure to file before two years could prevent you from getting the support you need to pay bills, plan a funeral, and deal with the emotional impacts of your losses. Fortunately, an experienced attorney can manage your case efficiently to file your suit on time.
If your two-year due date has passed, you might still have a chance to hold the guilty party liable for your economic and non-economic losses. Reach out to a lawyer today to find out if you’re still eligible to submit a suit.
How Much a Wrongful Death Lawyer Costs
With all of the bills, expenses, and financial losses you’re facing, it’s important that you know how much it costs to hire a wrongful death lawyer for your case. Luckily, most personal injury and wrongful death attorneys don’t charge upfront or out-of-pocket fees.
Instead, they charge what’s called a contingency fee. A contingency fee is an agreed-upon portion of your winnings that your attorney receives in exchange for the work they do on your case. If you don’t receive compensation, you won’t be expected to dip into your own funds to cover the fee. Simply put, if your attorney doesn’t win, you don’t have to pay.
Speak With an Attorney Today
There’s no lack of important things to know about your wrongful death case. When filing a lawsuit, you should be aware of all the factors that may affect your right to compensation. To find out if you’re eligible to take legal action and learn more about filing a suit, contact an attorney from Zanes Law.
If we agree to take on your case, our team will work hard to investigate the accident your loved one was killed in and find the evidence they need to prove fault. Once they’ve found the facts to support your suit, they’ll represent your best interests in court and demand that you’re awarded a fair payment.