Many circumstances can lead to death, and the sudden death of a loved one is always difficult to process. However, deaths only are classified as “wrongful” under Arizona law if they result from another person or entity’s negligent or intentional actions. When a wrongful death occurs, certain surviving family members may have the right to file a wrongful death claim against another party who has negligently or intentionally caused the death of their loved one.
An experienced Arizona wrongful death attorney from Garrison Law Firm can guide you and your family through the legal process of recovering compensation for the loss of your loved one. Contact us today by calling 623-887-5689 or reach out to us online to learn more about your options following a wrongful death.
Individuals Eligible to File Wrongful Death Claims
Under A.R.S. Sec. 12-612, only specific individuals may file a wrongful death claim. Eligible individuals must have a specific relation to the deceased person. These individuals include the following:
- Parents or guardians
- Personal representatives of deceased spouses, children, parents, or guardians
- Personal representatives of the estate of the deceased (if no other eligible relatives are able or willing to file the wrongful death claim)
No matter how close their relationships may have been with the deceased, no other individuals have the right to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. For example, common law marriages are not recognized under Arizona law. Therefore, an unmarried partner cannot file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased person, no matter the duration of their relationship.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
Under A.R.S. Sec. 12-611, designated family members generally can file a wrongful death claim following the death of a loved one if their loved one could have filed a personal injury claim had they survived their injuries. In other words, a person can be held liable for the wrongful death of a person if evidence shows that they intentionally or negligently caused the person’s death.
Negligent behavior leading to death involves acting with careless disregard for the safety of others. Generally, negligence involves proof of four separate elements, as follows:
- Duty of care – The person responsible for the wrongful death breached some legal duty of care that they owed the deceased. For example, all drivers owe a legal duty of care to other motorists to follow traffic laws.
- Breach of the duty of care – The person somehow violated the legal duty of care. For instance, the person violated a traffic law while driving, which led to a fatal accident.
- Causation – The person’s actions were the proximate cause of the other person’s wrongful death.
- Damages – The death resulted in damages or the loss of the surviving family members’ loved one.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
One component of proving negligence is providing that eligible surviving family members suffered damages because of the wrongful death. A.R.S. Sec. 12-613 outlines the allowable damages in a wrongful death claim. Damages involve financial compensation for the surviving family members’ losses due to the death of their loved one.
Damages can be economic or noneconomic. Economic damages are tangible monetary losses, such as medical bills for emergency treatment of the victim before death or loss of wages. Noneconomic damages are intangible losses that can be more challenging to translate into financial terms. These damages include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of services, and loss of affection, care, and guidance. Generally, personal representatives of estates are limited to seeking economic damages, whereas eligible surviving family members can seek economic and noneconomic damages.
Garrison Law Firm Can Help You Seek Compensation for a Wrongful Death
Filing a wrongful death claim can be a stressful and traumatic process, particularly as you struggle to cope with losing a loved one. However, a wrongful death lawyer from our office is prepared to assist you with that process. Contact us by calling 623-887-5689 or reaching out to us online. Schedule a free consultation today to discuss your situation and learn how we can help.