What You Should Know about Wrongful Death Cases
When a loved one dies as a result of the negligent or wrongful act by another, a wrongful death lawyer Phoenix, AZ can investigate negligence of the parties that may be responsible, and explain to the decedent’s survivors the legal options that are available.
Wrongful death is a legal term used when an individual’s life is taken as a result of the negligent or wrongful act of another. The death may occur due to any number of causes where there is negligence, involving vehicle, motorcycle, truck crashes, trauma to pedestrians, or bicyclists.
Early investigation is important, witnesses may need to be located, interviewed, sometimes an accident reconstructionist may need to be consulted.
The attorney will investigate the alleged negligence and advise regarding the statute of limitations, and other deadlines. In Arizona a governmental agency or employee may be negligent, if so Notice of Claim requirements need to be satisfied.
Under A.R.S. §12-821, and A.R.S. §12.821.01 there are time limits within which a claim shall be filed against a public entity, the claim must contain sufficient facts outlining the basis of the claim. The claim must also contain a specific amount that it may be settled for, representation by an attorney is essential to ensure that the claim is properly stated and served.
Cases are resolved by way of settlement, usually with the other party’s insurance carrier, or at trial. The wrongful death lawyer Phoenix, AZ will investigate fault, look into the available insurance policies that may apply.
In Arizona, the general rule is that a wrongful death claim may be brought by a surviving spouse, child or parent of the decedent, on behalf of the spouse or children, or parents of the decedent.
Under A.R.S. § 12-613, the amount of damages that a surviving spouse, parent or child may recover will vary from case to case, damages that are considered may include:
- The loss of love, affection and companionship since the death of the decedent and in the future,
- Pain, grief, sorrow and mental suffering experienced since the death, and in the future,
- Lost income sustained as a result of the death.
Punitive damages should also be considered, they may be an option in certain types of cases where the adverse party’s conduct is particularly wrongful, such as drunk driving, or overservice of alcohol by a bar. For example, I represented the mother of a daughter who died following a motorcycle crash. The driver of the motorcycle was overserved alcohol at a bar. He crashed the motorcycle, his female passenger was killed. A jury assessed fault against the drunk driver and the bar, and determined damages for the mother.
There should be no attorneys fees unless there is a settlement. The attorney should advance the costs necessary to investigate the case, file the case in court, and proceed with hiring experts, taking depositions, and preparing for possible trial.
The loss of life is irreplaceable, our legal system provides some remedy, although inadequate, to assess accountability and damages. An experienced, wrongful death lawyer Phoenix, AZ should be contacted without delay.