In the state of Arizona, a wrongful death claim is subject to the Arizona Revised Statute §12-611 to 12-613. Within the statutes, loved ones are given basic rights to seek compensation under particular circumstances.
The wrongful death statutes are highly complex; therefore, family members should consult a Phoenix wrongful death lawyer before assuming their case qualifies for compensation.
Understanding the Liability Requirement
In ARS 12-611 is the “Death by Wrongful Act” article. This states that loved ones may file a wrongful death suit as long as the deceased died in the event that could have been prevented, or if the deceased would not have died had the accident/injury not occurred.
If this occurs, then loved ones may hold the negligent party responsible for damages. The death, however, must occur by a wrongful act, such as a car accident, construction site accident, truck accident, etc.
Not All Loved Ones May Seek Compensation
Phoenix wrongful death lawyers can only represent specific family members in a wrongful death action. Under ARS 12-612, only particular survivors may file a wrongful death suit against the defendant.
The statute is clear about which family members may file a lawsuit, which includes a surviving spouse, children, parent or guardian of the deceased, or a legal representative for one of the approved family members.
When there is no spouse, children, or parents, the statute allows for siblings, same-sex partners, and common law spouses to then file a suit.
How is Wrongful Death Compensation Paid to Surviving Family Members?
Phoenix wrongful death lawyers will seek compensation on behalf of the loved ones. While there may be multiple parties representing the deceased, there is only one plaintiff listed in the complaint. The plaintiff then represents the group.
After compensation is awarded, eligible survivors have compensation allocated based on their damages. The presiding judge decides these damages and allocation amounts. These allocation percentages are based on factors such as a spouse’s financial dependence on the deceased, costs incurred, and other factors.
How the Courts Decide What Damages Apply
Damages in a wrongful death case are different than that of a personal injury case.
When a loved one dies, family members are subject to ARS 12-613 for compensation. While the statute is vague, the jury is required only to award damages that are fair and in line with the costs the surviving family members encountered.
Damages that may be awarded to family members include:
- Financial dependency amounts that spouse or children may have depended on.
- Earnings of the deceased, as well as future earnings.
- The monetary value of the emotional
- Income and services lost due to the death of the deceased.
- Anguish, stress, and grief associated with the death.
- Loss of affection, love or companionship.
- Costs associated with the injury and death, including medical bills, funeral or burial costs.
The court dictates which amounts are acceptable and the compensation is then allocated based on which surviving family members encountered the costs. For example, costs for funeral and burial costs, as well as medical bills, may be paid to the surviving spouse that encountered those bills.
Compensation cannot include debts or liabilities that the deceased has left their loved ones.
Requesting Compensation Requires Legal Assistance
A wrongful death claim is not a matter of filing a suit. There is the evidentiary burden that falls on the plaintiff. Not only must the plaintiff establish that the defendant caused the death, but that their compensation amounts are justified.
Plaintiffs may need to provide income statements, benefit details, evidence of earnings, inheritance losses, and other legal documents to establish their compensation value. Also, medical statements, health insurance explanation of benefits and receipts for paid medical services must be provided if claiming medical costs associated with the accident.
Courts May Reduce Damages
There are instances where the court mitigates or reduces the amount of compensation. There are instances where a defendant cannot request a reduction, such as the surviving spouse remarrying. This is because the courts feel that the defendant should not benefit from the surviving spouse remarrying after the loss of their loved one.
There are, however, approved instances where the court may reduce settlements. These include evidence of a drug abuse problem, proof that the wrongful death action did not earn extraordinary damages, history of domestic violence that may have led to the death, or proof that other events or actions may have partially caused the death.
Speak with Phoenix Wrongful Death Lawyers
Those who have lost a loved one in an accident should consult an attorney immediately. An attorney can assess the facts of the case and help determine if a wrongful death action is applicable.
The attorneys at Tobler Law proudly represent family members who have lost their loved one due to someone’s negligence. They work as advocates for surviving family members and help them seek compensation while holding negligent parties responsible for their actions.
Loved ones are encouraged to contact the accident team at Tobler Law for a no obligation consultation by calling 480-898-9700 or fill out an online contact form with legal concerns.