Phoenix Wrongful Death Lawyer
The loss of a loved one is never easy and can turn your world upside down in a matter of an instant. When you don’t have time to prepare for such a loss, and if your loss was the result of another individual or organization’s negligence, it can be emotionally, financially, and physiologically taxing or traumatic. And the devastating loss of someone you love can often leave you disoriented and entirely unsure of your next steps.
Pursuant to A.R.S. § 12 -612, standing to bring a survivorship or wrongful death action is limited to the following: the decedent’s estate, the surviving spouse; child; parent or guardian; and/or legal representative of the decedent. Unlike other jurisdictions, Arizona excludes recovery for siblings or other relatives; same-sex partners; and common law spouses. And although monetary compensation undoubtedly cannot replace your loved one, the law recognizes that the at-fault party’s liability extends far beyond the death of the deceased. Financial compensation may help to alleviate the stress related to your family’s financial burdens.
By searching “wrongful death attorney phoenix az” or “wrongful death lawyers phoenix” you should find Pincus Law Firm. Our team is highly experienced and only does personal injury law, winning 98% of cases. Although taking legal action may not be your primary priority after losing a loved one, it is likely we can achieve a settlement, avoiding a trial. And we understand that your case is unique. Our skilled attorneys will give you the attention you deserve, providing you with the compassionate care and careful representation you need to get your case trial-ready. With the resources and working relationships to meticulously examine the accident’s cause, we will work to hold those responsible accountable for their negligence.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit may be brought to civil court by the decedent’s estate, the surviving spouse; child; parent or guardian; and/or legal representative of the decedent in the event that the decedent’s death resulted from another individual or entity’s wrongful act, negligence, or misconduct. Under Arizona Revised Statute 12-611, certain family members may bring a wrongful death lawsuit to court if the victim’s death was caused by an individual or organization’s wrongful act, neglect, or default that would have been grounds for a personal injury suit had the deceased survived. Like a personal injury case in which the injured individual cannot bring the case to court on their own behalf, family members may attempt to receive justice and damages via a wrongful death claim.
However, the family member pursuing the case has the burden of substantiating their claim that the defendant acted negligently, serving as the proximate cause of the victim’s death. And to establish proximate cause, an individual must show that an event is sufficiently connected to an injury, enabling the courts to determine that the event caused the sustained injury.
It is common for wrongful death lawsuits to be preceded by criminal trials. Although both wrongful death lawsuits and criminal trials tend to draw upon similar evidence, it is essential to note that the standard of proof differs. Furthermore, it is possible for an individual convicted of wrongful death to ultimately be convicted of a crime linked to that death as well.
The prosecution is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the wrongdoer is guilty in a criminal trial. In other words, the facts proven in a criminal trial must establish the wrongdoer’s guilt, fully satisfying the evidence against the wrongdoer. Moreover, in criminal court, a defendant who is found guilty will likely serve time in prison.
On the other hand, in a civil trial, the decedent’s estate, the surviving spouse; child; parent or guardian; and/or legal representative of the decedent must prove the wrongdoer’s responsibility for their loved one’s death by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, they must tip the scale in their favor by presenting evidence that illustrates that the wrongdoer’s negligence was the probable cause of the victim’s death. If found legally responsible in civil court, the defendant will need to pay monetary damages.
The defendant’s insurance company is usually responsible for paying the damages agreed upon in a settlement or awarded by a jury in a wrongful death lawsuit. However, if your loved one’s death resulted from a defective product, the manufacturer, designer, and others involved in the production of that product may be responsible for paying damages to the victim’s loved one damages. There are undoubtedly cases in which the defendant does not have adequate insurance coverage to cover the damages awarded. In such situations, the recovery may be reduced to the limits of the defendant’s insurance policy, or the defendant’s assets may be used in an attempt to secure payment for damages not covered.
Can You File a Wrongful Death Claim for an Accidental Death of a Loved One?
A wrongful death claim can be filed in situations when the resulting death was accidental. As stated in Arizona Revised Statute 12-611, certain family members may file a wrongful death claim if the death of the loved one was the result of another party’s “wrongful act, neglect or default.” The negligence or wrongful act was often accidental and not done to inflict harm or deliberately cause the victim’s death. For example, an individual who runs a stop sign because they were texting while driving did not purposefully cause anyone’s death. Nonetheless, under the law, their choice to behave recklessly and dangerously would still make them responsible.
And when such dangerous behaviors result in a fatality, the individual or company that caused the death is considered at-fault. There are some instances in which a defendant may only be liable for the design, manufacture, or sale of an unreasonably dangerous product, like SUVs that roll over or gas tanks that explode when a car is impacted.
Elements of Wrongful Death Claims
According to Arizona Revised Statute 12-612, only the deceased’s children, parents, personal representative, or surviving spouse may legally file a wrongful death claim in the state of Arizona.
The following elements must exist to bring a wrongful death claim in Arizona successfully-
- Breach of Duty: A duty was owed to the decedent by the defendant to exhibit a reasonable amount of care. For example, in death that resulted from a car accident, the defendant owed a duty to the victim to drive safely, following all traffic laws.
- Causation: A victim’s surviving family members are required to prove that the cause of death was the defendant’s negligence.
- Damages: The victim’s death must have brought about quantifiable damages like burial costs, loss of earnings, medical bills, or pain and suffering.
- Negligence: A victim’s surviving family members are required to prove that death resulted from the defendant’s wrongful act, neglect, or default.
Additionally, the following are damages commonly associated with wrongful death claims-
- The anguish, grief, mental suffering, pain, shock, sorrow, and stress experienced as a result of the death, now and reasonably probable in the future
- The loss of affection, care, companionship, guidance, love, and protection from the point of death and in the coming years
- The loss of income and services as a result of the death, now and reasonably probable in the future
- The reasonable costs of burial and funeral
- The reasonable costs of required medical treatment and services for the sustained injury which ultimately resulted in the death
As a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil suit and not a criminal suit, the damages awarded will be monetary. If you believe you might have a wrongful death claim, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced, caring, and compassionate Phoenix wrongful death attorney. At Pincus Law Firm, our team will provide you and your case with the attention and personal service you deserve, working to obtain damages.
What Are Some Examples of Wrongful Death Cases?
There are numerous situations in which death actions can arise. And various types of preventable circumstances can result in Phoenix wrongful death actions and claims, the most common of which are:
- Birth injuries
- Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents
- Common carrier claims
- Construction accidents
- Deaths resulting from medical errors
- Deaths resulting from violence
- Fatal injuries sustained by government contractors
- Fatal injuries caused by defective or faulty products
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Workplace deaths
You might have grounds for a lawsuit if your loved one’s death was the result of another person or company’s negligent acts, omissions, or intentional conduct. The Phoenix wrongful death lawyers at Pincus Law Firm know the factors considered under the law to obtain compensation and help you determine whether or not there is a legal basis for you to file your claim.
What’s the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Action in Phoenix?
Every state has limitation periods, which function as time limits, in which lawsuits must be filed. By failing to file an action within the limitation period, your ability to file a claim and attempt to recover damages will be lost.
With that being said, each state has its unique, specific statute that applies to wrongful death claims. Usually, such statutes are quite similar to personal injury lawsuits, safe for a handful of exceptions. Although these cases still involve negligence, the court process and damages available to the plaintiff are different because of the victim’s injuries’ fatal nature.
According to Arizona Revised Statute 12-542, an individual is required to file a lawsuit for the death of a loved one in civil court within two years of the death. However, the statute of limitations applicable to filing a wrongful death claim can vary greatly. While many cases can be filed within two years, there are cases in which the statute of limitations is shorter. Cases involving workers’ compensation for dog bites, for example, have a statute of limitations of one year. And a six-month notice of claim and one-year suit filing requirement applies to cases in which a government entity is a defendant. Thus, in as few as 180 days, an individual’s eligibility to file a wrongful death claim can entirely disappear.
However, many courts believe that the discovery rule should be applied to situations in which the application of the statute of limitations would destroy the cause of action before it could be discovered. Arizona often applies the discovery rule, which states that using a statute of limitations in a wrongful death action starts when the party bringing the lawsuit has or should have discovered the cause of the decedent’s death with reasonable diligence.
You should promptly seek legal counsel if you believe that someone else is at-fault for your loved one’s death. Getting legal assistance soon after your loved one’s accident or death can help to preserve evidence, as well as provide your attorney with more time to conduct an in-depth, detailed investigation, ultimately strengthening your claim. If you wait too long to contact a Phoenix wrongful death lawyer, the statute of limitations that applies to your case may expire, and you may be prevented from collecting any damages.
Why Should I File a Wrongful Death Claim if a Criminal Case is Pending?
When a criminal case is already pending against a defendant responsible for the death of a loved one, many individuals do not understand why it is in their best interest to file a civil suit against the defendant. Nevertheless, there are several reasons why it is imperative to file a civil lawsuit, whether or not a criminal case is pending. For one, monetary damages can offer the victim’s loved one’s some good that can’t be achieved by merely punishing a criminal defendant. Whether used to help support the family, pay for schooling, create a charitable foundation, etc., monetary damages give a victim’s family members the opportunity to add some positivity into the world and make their lost loved one proud.
With a significantly higher burden of proof, criminal cases require prosecutors to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. On the other hand, civil cases require plaintiffs to prove that it was more probable than not that the defendant committed the offense in question. Regardless of if the defendant is found guilty in criminal court, these differences in severity of the burden of proof make it possible for an individual to triumph against the responsible individual or organization in civil court.
And this is well-illustrated by the infamous O.J. Simpson case. Although O.J. Simpson was acquitted on all charges in his 1995 criminal case for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, he was found liable for both deaths in a wrongful death suit brought by the Goldman family. Ultimately, Simpson was required to pay the victims’ families $33.5 million.
By filing a civil lawsuit, you may be able to hold the defendant accountable for their neglectful or dangerous behavior. And a simple search of “wrongful death lawyer phoenix az,” “wrongful death attorney phoenix,” or “wrongful death lawyer near me” should direct you to Pincus Law Firm. Our team of highly skilled and experienced Phoenix personal injury lawyers will have your back and assist you in obtaining compensation to lessen the financial burden that may have resulted from your loved one’s passing. Working with experts and reconstructing accident scenes, your Phoenix wrongful death lawyer will gather all of the evidence they can to best support your claim and establish liability and negligence.
How Our Wrongful Death Attorney In Phoenix Can Help
Understanding, sympathetic, and prepared to develop strategies distinct to your case, Pincus Law Firm only does personal injury law. Our Phoenix wrongful death lawyers perform in-depth and detailed investigations for cases in Arizona. Although the legal processes involved in filing a wrongful death claim can be complicated and lengthy, our team will assist you in examining the situation and determine what occurred, who is responsible, and what should have reasonably been done to avert the accident.
By gathering substantial evidence and preparing a strong case, we’ll help you handle any situations that may pop up during the legal process. And speaking with an experienced and skilled lawyer is essential, particularly before you agree to any terms with an insurance company or third party.
It is critical to promptly contact a wrongful death attorney within the statute of limitations. This will enable you to pursue your case and allow the most significant sum of evidence to be collected appropriately. Search “wrongful death lawyer phoenix” today and visit our website to request your free consultation. We pride ourselves on offering knowledgeable, professional, and compassionate assistance, alleviating the stresses of the legal process and assisting you in obtaining your rightful damages. And we only take cases on a contingency basis, so we’ll only be paid if you win!
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