In Arizona, the unexpected death of a family member or loved one resulting from the negligent or intentional actions of another can give rise to a legal claim for wrongful death. In such a case, the dependents of the decedent, including the spouse, children and others who depended upon them, are entitled to be reimbursed for current and future damages that arise from their loss.
Categories of recoverable damages
Losses caused by a wrongful death which may be recovered from the responsible party are categorized as economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include financial and monetary losses that can be calculated using documentation and other verifiable information, and can include emergency medical and funeral expenses, and the cost of damaged property repair or replacement. Non-economic damages are subjective, are determined in accordance with legal standards for their calculation, and can include pain and suffering and the loss of future support and society.
Who is entitled to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit?
In order to seek the recovery of damages caused by a wrongful death, survivors and dependents must be able to demonstrate to a court that they have standing to do so. As legally-defined, a person has standing to seek recovery when they can show a court they have been harmed by the wrongful death. Those having standing to pursue recovery of their damages in a wrongful death suit generally include spouses and children, but can also include others who depended upon the decedent for financial and other support.
Time limit for seeking wrongful death damages
Quite understandably, those who have standing to seek recovery of damages will likely be occupied with other concerns immediately following the wrongful death of their loved one. However, the date of the decedent’s death starts a clock that determines the amount of time available to initiate a claim for damages. This window of time is known as the statute of limitations. In Arizona, the statute of limitations is two years, which means that a claim for damages must be commenced before the two-year statute expires.
Seeking the assistance of legal counsel as soon as possible after the unfortunate occurrence of a wrongful death could allow loved ones to devote their attention to properly grieving the shock of their loss, and could also prove beneficial to a claim for damages. A wrongful death attorney might be able to attempt resolution of the claim prior to litigation, and should attempts at settlement fail, file a lawsuit in civil court within the time constraints set by law.