There are few things as shocking and traumatic as facing the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one from a fatal accident, and when the accident was caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence, it can be difficult to know what to do next and where to turn for help. In Arizona, any person who suffers injuries and other losses in an accident due to the negligence or carelessness of another person, company or entity has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek damages for those losses. However, when an accident results in a person’s death, the surviving family members will have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in order to pursue the compensation they deserve for their loved one’s loss of life. At Personal Injury Attorneys PLLC, our Phoenix wrongful death attorneys know how life-altering it can be to lose a loved one in a fatal accident, and we will guide you through the process of holding the at-fault person or party accountable for your losses, so you can recover the compensation you and your family deserve.
Knowledgeable Wrongful Death Attorneys
Dealing with a sudden loss is never easy, and after losing a loved one in a Phoenix accident, it may not even register with you that you may be entitled to financial compensation from the person or party found at fault in the accident. You deserve the time to properly grieve the loss of your loved one, and you may find it difficult to think about the future and how your family will ever get past such a horrible loss, but as soon as you are able to, you should contact a wrongful death attorney who can evaluate your claim. Hiring an attorney and pursuing compensation from the at-fault person or party won’t bring your loved one back, nor will it erase the pain of losing someone you love in a tragic accident, but it can help you and your family recover the compensation you need to rebuild your lives after the death of a loved one. In the state of Arizona, you only have a certain amount of time to file a wrongful death claim for damages, and if you fail to do so within the time limit, you will be barred from recovering any compensation at all. Our wrongful death attorneys at Personal Injury Attorneys, PLLC are familiar with Arizona personal injury law and what it takes to win a wrongful death case, so don’t hesitate to contact our firm for legal help.
What is a Wrongful Death?
Under Arizona personal injury law, a wrongful death is any death that occurs because of an accident or because of the deliberate actions of another person or party. A wrongful death claim, therefore, is a civil action brought by the deceased individual’s family or estate against the person or party at fault for the accident, in order to hold those responsible for the fatal accident liable for their negligence. A wrongful death claim is not the same thing as a criminal action, although some wrongful death cases do result in criminal charges being brought by the state against the at-fault person or party.
Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death
There is no single cause of wrongful death in Phoenix, but there are certain kinds of accidents that cause more unintentional deaths than others. For instance, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, 962 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2016, and these types of accidents are the second leading cause of unintentional, preventable deaths throughout the United States. Some of the most common causes of wrongful death in Phoenix and across Arizona are as follows:
- Motor vehicle accidents – Fatal injuries occurring because of a car accident, truck accident, bicycle accident or pedestrian accident are far too common in Phoenix, and our personal injury attorneys are committed to helping the loved ones of individuals killed in fatal motor vehicle accidents recover the compensation they deserve for their tragic loss.
- Workplace accidents – Construction accidents, elevator accidents, or any other accident occurring in the workplace can result in fatal injuries, and when fatal workplace accidents occur in Phoenix, our wrongful death attorneys are there to fight for the rights of the victim’s family members.
- Premises liability accidents – Any time someone is killed in a slip and fall accident or another preventable accident on public property or someone else’s private property because of a dangerous condition that wasn’t corrected or properly marked, the property owner or business owner can be held liable for the victim’s wrongful death.
- Dog bite accidents – Arizona is a strict liability state for dog bite accidents and in most cases, if your loved one was killed in a vicious dog attack, you aren’t required to prove that the dog owner was negligent or even that the owner knew the dog was aggressive in order to prove your case.
Seeking Compensation for Wrongful Death
Any time someone is killed in an accident in Phoenix, there may be surviving family members who have suffered and will continue to suffer economic losses and other losses as a result of the accident victim’s death. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or party at fault for the accident, surviving family members can pursue damages for their losses now and in the future. Under Arizona law, plaintiffs in Phoenix wrongful death claims can pursue economic and non-economic damages for any losses they sustained as a result of their loved one’s accident injuries and death, including the following:
- Medical expenses associated with treating the victim’s injury prior to his or her death
- Any property that was damaged or destroyed in the fatal accident (i.e. in a fatal car accident, the victim’s damaged or totaled vehicle)
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Pain and suffering (on the part of the surviving family members and on the part of the victim prior to his or her death)
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Loss of the value of household services provided by the victim
We understand that no amount of money will make up for the fact that your loved one is gone, but we believe that a wrongful death settlement or damages award can at the very least provide you and your family with the financial security you need to move forward and establish some sense of normalcy after suffering the wrongful death of a loved one.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The state of Arizona has specific laws in place that dictate how wrongful death claims must proceed and which parties have the right to file wrongful death claims in Phoenix. According to the law, a deceased individual’s surviving spouse, parent or child may file a wrongful death claim against the person or party at fault for the fatal accident, or, if there are no surviving family members, a claim can be brought by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate. If the deceased individual is a child, the child’s parents or legal guardian have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent person or party.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims
Arizona has a standard two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which means injured victims in Phoenix have two years from the date their injuries occurred (usually the date of the accident) to file a personal injury lawsuit. The same statute of limitations applies to wrongful death lawsuits, but the two-year timeline begins on the date of the individual’s death, which isn’t always the same date as the accident that caused the death. In some cases, victims of Phoenix car accidents or construction accidents suffer serious and catastrophic injuries that end up causing their death days, weeks or even months after the accident occurred, and if this is the case, the two-year statute of limitations begins on the date of the death, rather than the date of the accident. There are certain circumstances that can result in even shorter filing deadlines for Phoenix wrongful death claims. For instance, if a public entity, such as a school district or the state of Arizona, caused or contributed to wrongful death, the statute of limitations is only one year.
The Importance of Proving Negligence
Fatal accidents in Phoenix can lead to different types of wrongful death claims, depending on the nature of the accident and who is found to be at fault for the victim’s death. For instance, if an individual is killed in an accident caused by a negligent driver who was under the influence of alcohol, the victim’s surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim against the driver for damages. If the accident occurred because of a vehicle defect, the manufacturer of the defective vehicle or vehicle part could be held liable for the victim’s death. In order to recover damages in a Phoenix wrongful death claim, the person bringing the claim (the plaintiff) must prove that the other person or party (the defendant) caused the accident that led to the victim’s death, and most wrongful death claims hinge on the issue of negligence, or the failure of an individual, company or agency to act in a reasonable manner, thereby causing the death of another person. Your attorney must be able to prove the following four elements of negligence in order to win your wrongful death case:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care to prevent causing any harm (i.e. it is the duty of a motorist to drive in a reasonably careful manner and obey traffic laws),
- The defendant violated this duty of care (i.e. a motorist drove under the influence of alcohol),
- The defendant’s actions directly caused your loved one’s death, and
- You suffered some measurable loss as a result.
How We Can Help
Pursuing compensation through a Phoenix wrongful death claim can be complicated and time-consuming, and without legal guidance from an experienced wrongful death attorney, you may find it difficult to navigate the legal process of recovering the damages you and your family are entitled to. In addition to the emotional pain and suffering that losing a loved one can cause, there is also the financial aspect of the loss to consider. Families who lose a wage earner often face a significant loss of income, both current and future, that can create a considerable financial hardship, and they deserve to be compensated for the economic support their loved one would have contributed had he or she not been killed. Any time a person is killed in an accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another person or party, it is a good idea for the accident victim’s surviving family members to consult a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney who can properly examine the facts of the case and determine whether a wrongful death lawsuit is warranted. Our legal team at Personal Injury Attorneys, PLLC understands that losing a loved one can be emotionally and financially devastating for the victim’s surviving family members, and we will do everything we can to help you maximize your recovery, whether that entails negotiating a settlement with the insurance company or pursuing monetary damages in court.
Consult Our Phoenix Wrongful Death Attorneys for Legal Help
Unintentional injuries and deaths are at an all-time high in the United States. In 2017 alone, there were 169,936 unintentional deaths in the U.S., a 5.3% increase from the previous year, with unintentional falls and motor vehicle accident deaths accounting for more than 76,000 of these preventable fatalities. It is never easy losing someone you love, and when a fatal accident occurs because of someone else’s negligent or irresponsible actions, it can be even more difficult to understand why the accident occurred and who is to blame. Our attorneys at Personal Injury Attorneys, PLLC know how important it is for surviving family members to properly grieve the loss of a loved one, which is why we will handle every aspect of your wrongful death case for you, so you don’t have to worry about anything other than helping your family get through this difficult time. There is a strict deadline for filing a wrongful death claim in Phoenix, so don’t wait. Contact our attorneys today to find out how we can help.