When you lose someone you love, it’s a difficult time, regardless of the cause of death. It’s even worse when your loved one dies an untimely death because of someone else’s carelessness or recklessness.
Beyond the physical loss of your loved one, you and your family may suffer both financially and emotionally. If you can prove that someone else’s actions led to your loved one’s death, you may be eligible for significant financial compensation.
At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we help families pursue the money that they deserve in wrongful death cases. When you are unsure of where to turn, our Phoenix wrongful death attorneys are ready to help.
What Types of Accidents Qualify for Wrongful Death?
There are many types of accidents that can qualify for wrongful death. Some of the most common types where wrongful death often occurs are:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability cases
- Boating accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Product liability cases
- Workplace accidents
While this is a broad group of accidents, they share something in common: someone else can be responsible for the death of your loved one. When that happens, justice demands that they be accountable for the losses they cause.
For a free legal consultation with a wrongful death lawyer serving Phoenix, call 866-499-8989
How Do I Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case?
While the consequence of the accident is far greater, wrongful death claims are like any other negligence case. You need to prove the same thing that you would in any personal injury case. You must provide evidence that someone else was to blame for the injury that caused your family member’s death.
The legal term for this is negligence. It is another way of saying that someone else’s actions took your family member from you. There is a four-part test to prove negligence in any wrongful death case, and each element of negligence must be present:
- Duty of care: The defendant owed your loved one the duty to act reasonably under the circumstances
- Breach of duty: The defendant breached that duty by acting unreasonably
- Injury: Your loved one suffered an injury
- Causation: Your loved one would not have suffered injuries had it not been for the actions of the defendant
Proving a wrongful death case requires that you have evidence to support each of the above four elements. The biggest issues in any wrongful death case will be the second and fourth parts of the test.
Often, the entire case will come down to proving what the defendant did or did not do. This requires a Phoenix wrongful death attorney who can investigate the cause of the death and present the facts to an insurance company or jury.
Phoenix Wrongful Death Lawyer Near Me 866-499-8989
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The wrongful death legal process is a little different from some personal injury cases because of who may bring the case. Of course, in the standard personal injury case, it is the accident victim themselves who is filing the case. But there’s a clear distinction among surviving family members of who can file a wrongful death claim.
As A.R.S. § 12-612 states, the following people can file a wrongful death claim:
- The surviving spouse always has the first right to bring the legal case.
- If there is no spouse, the children have the legal right to sue.
- The next group that can file a lawsuit is the surviving parents.
- Finally, if there is no spouse, children, or parents, an authorized personal representative can file the lawsuit on behalf of the estate.
No matter who is eligible to file the case in your situation, our Phoenix wrongful death lawyers at Zanes Law Injury Lawyers are ready to help you get the compensation you need.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death lawsuit’s purpose is to recover what you and your family lost when your family member died. We understand the significant consequences you may be suffering after your loved one’s death. While money cannot bring the person back, you can recover damages for your loved one’s death. You and your family may be eligible to recover the following damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income the deceased person
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of emotional support
- Loss of consortium for the deceased person’s spouse
- Unpaid medical bills
- Funeral expenses
Our law firm is dedicated to recovering fair compensation for you and your family. We’ll make sure that you recover all the damages your case qualifies for.
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How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Arizona?
In Arizona, there is a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death claim due to the statute of limitations. You have two years from the time that you learned that someone else’s negligent conduct caused your family member’s death. This is codified under A.R.S. § 12-542.
This is a very strict limit, and there are harsh consequences for missing it. If you file your claim after the statute of limitations expires, you will lose the right to receive financial compensation.
This is why you never want to wait until the last minute, or any moment longer than necessary, to begin the legal process.
Many families will either file a lawsuit very soon after their loved one dies, or they will at least begin the process of working with the insurance company on a settlement as soon as they can. An experienced attorney will handle the details while the family deals with their own grief.
What Difficulties Come With Suing a Big Corporation?
If a corporation caused your loved one’s death, you can still sue. Holding a big corporation accountable for your loved one’s death is possible, but there are various challenges that come with it.
But our wrongful death attorneys in Phoenix know how to win cases against some of the most powerful companies. The biggest challenge you’ll likely face when taking a wrongful death action against a corporation is that they won’t want to pay you a penny.
To get a better idea of how companies try to escape facing accountability, we’re going to examine a case against Jeep that has recent developments.
Jeep’s Safety Issues
In 2015, a mother lost her four-year-old daughter in a rear-end accident when a Jeep Grand Cherokee hit the back of her car. The mother was severely injured, and her daughter died from the auto accident’s impact.
For a long time, the family was not able to sue Jeep’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler. But the Arizona Supreme Court recently ruled that the family can sue because Fiat Chrysler was negligent in its actions.
The Arizona Supreme Court and the family’s lawyer argued that all Jeeps should come with automatic emergency brakes instead of being offered as an option to drivers. They also argue that if the Jeep that rear-ended the mother had the emergency brakes installed, it could have prevented her daughter’s death and many other fatal accidents.
In response to the accident, Fiat Chrysler defended itself by saying that if they included the automatic emergency braking system in every Jeep model, it would hinder further developments of more advanced Jeep models. While there has been no further legal action against Jeep, their response to the accident clearly shows their motives: to maintain profit.
And when a company’s primary motive is profit, it’s unlikely that they will be willing to pay any plaintiffs the compensation they deserve. This is just one of the many challenges you may face when taking legal action against corporations as a negligent party.
You can overcome the challenges of taking on a corporation when you have one of our wrongful death lawyers by your side. We’ll fight for the compensation you deserve for medical expenses, property damage, and all the other relevant damages you are entitled to.
Phoenix Wrongful Death Attorney FAQ
Our Phoenix wrongful death lawyers can answer many questions from families who have a wrongful death case. Below are the answers to some questions that clients commonly ask us about wrongful death in Arizona.
Should I Settle My Wrongful Death Claim or File a Lawsuit?
This all depends on the situation and the strategy that your lawyer advises you to follow. In some situations where you should file a lawsuit right after your loved one has died and use that as leverage in settlement negotiations.
Other times, you may want to file an insurance claim first and see if you can reach a settlement agreement. You always have the option to file a lawsuit if the insurance company does not pay you what you legally deserve.
Even if you file a lawsuit, you can continue to discuss a potential settlement agreement. In fact, most wrongful death lawsuits will eventually settle and not go to trial. In many cases, the defendant does not want their case in the hands of a jury when someone has died.
Juries can sympathize with the grieving family and hit the defendant with a large verdict. In the end, your attorney will give you advice about the right time to settle and whether they believe that you are receiving a fair settlement offer.
What Happens if the Wrongful Death Was a Result of Criminal Action?
You have a legal right to recover if someone else was to blame, regardless of how the accident occurred. This means that you can file a lawsuit if an assault or a drunk driving accident caused the death. The civil lawsuit process is completely different from the criminal process. You still need to file a case, even if the defendant faced charges and received a conviction for a crime.
You may still have a case even if the defendant received an acquittal. This is because there are different burdens of proof in the two types of cases. A criminal prosecutor will need to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, you have a lower standard, which means it is easier to prove unlawful conduct in civil court than in criminal court.
You do not need to wait for a conviction to file a civil lawsuit. However, the criminal process may move faster than the civil one, and that case can resolve before your lawsuit. If the case ends in a conviction, you can use evidence of the conviction to help your civil lawsuit.
What Happens at Your Initial Consultation With Your Attorney?
We understand that seeing an attorney for a wrongful death case will be a difficult conversation for you because it involves discussing the trauma of losing your loved one. Your wrongful death lawyer will handle the consultation with compassion and sensitivity while attempting to learn more about your case.
We will need to learn the facts, so we can tell you where to begin in the process of trying to obtain financial compensation. We will ask you specific questions to understand your case. This may be the initial conversation in a series of them.
We can help you get started, although you should not expect your attorney to have all the answers within an hour of talking to you. Thus, the initial consultation is a starting point for both of us.
We may need to investigate further, and we may have some follow-up questions. While we are learning more about your case, you are learning more about us as a lawyer.
Can I Get Punitive Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?
Punitive damages do not frequently apply in personal injury cases. However, more egregious cases may cause juries to want to punish the defendant.
Whether a jury awards this type of damage depends on the facts. We cannot say that a wrongful death makes it more likely that the jury will hit the defendant with punitive damages, but the fact that someone died may anger the jury and cause them to want to punish someone.
Your wrongful death attorney will inform the court at the beginning of the case that they are seeking punitive damages on your behalf. If the evidence comes out in discovery that shows that the defendant can be at serious risk of a large verdict, they may be more inclined to negotiate a settlement on your terms.
Work With the Right Phoenix Wrongful Death Attorney
Insurance companies often fear lawyers with a reputation for aggressively working on behalf of their clients. They know who we are at Zanes Law Injury Lawyers because we have a long track record of fighting hard for what our clients deserve.
A Phoenix wrongful death attorney from our firm is ready to fight for you. Call us or fill out the contact form on our website to get started with your free case consultation.