Nearly all wrongful death cases in and around Phoenix involve carelessness and negligence. Wrongful death cases are civil cases and not criminal. A criminal case might be pending against the person who caused the death of somebody else, but the wrongful death case will be heard in a different courtroom with a different judge and jury. The most common types of wrongful death cases involve car, truck and motorcycle crashes, bicycle and pedestrian accidents, slip-and-falls, trip-and-falls, deaths from dangerously defective products, workplace fatalities, nursing home negligence and medical malpractice.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action?
Arizona law only allows certain people to bring a wrongful death action. In relation to the decedent, here is who can bring them:
- A spouse.
- Any child of the decedent over 18.
- A parent or legal guardian of the deceased.
- The legal representative of any of the above people.
- An administrator who is appointed by the court.
What Is the Purpose of a Wrongful Death Claim?
These cases are ordinarily brought by the survivors of the person who died as a result of the act or failure to act of the defendant. They seek financial compensation for the following types of damages:
- The loss of the love, care, companionship and guidance of the decedent.
- The past and future pain, grief and emotional suffering from the loss.
- The past and future income and loss of services from the decedent.
- The medical expenses required for the injuries that caused the death.
- Funeral and burial expenses for the decedent.
- Other substantial damages might be sought in what is known as a survival action.
The Burden of Proof
Even the burden of proof is different in a wrongful death case than in a criminal case. In a criminal case, the prosecution has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil wrongful death case, the plaintiff carries the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence. What that means is that the plaintiff’s version of how events unfolded is more likely true than not true.
Evidence can get lost or destroyed, memories can get hazy and witnesses can disappear. You’ll want to start building your case right away. If you lost a family member in an accident in or around Phoenix as a result of the negligence of somebody else, contact us as soon as you possibly can for a free consultation and case review with a wrongful death lawyer in Phoenix from our offices. Our promise is to listen to you carefully, answer your questions and advise you on the best legal path to recovering maximum compensation for your losses.