Mesa Wrongful Death Lawyer
The death of a loved one is emotionally challenging for the surviving relatives. While it’s natural for the grieving family to want to be left alone to mourn their departed in peace, immediately pursuing legal action is important if the death was due to negligent or wrongful behavior.
After all, bills don’t automatically disappear after a loved one dies. In fact, at such a time, the surviving families require money to cater for medical and funeral expenses, among other financial needs. Thankfully, Arizona laws allow surviving family members to seek restitution for the death of a loved one caused by negligence or wrongful acts committed by another party. A Mesa wrongful death lawyer can help you understand the legal modalities to pursue in a wrongful death claim.
Understanding Arizona’s Laws on Wrongful Death
As defined in the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) § 12-611, the term “wrongful death” refers to negligent, failure to act, or wrongful acts committed by a person or business that causes the death of another human being. Such actions can stem from a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to:
- Motor vehicle accidents (the leading cause of wrongful death lawsuits)
- Medical Malpractice (hospital mistakes causing patient death)
- Premise liability (slips and falls)
- Defective products
- Intentional violence (first and second-degree manslaughter)
If any of these acts are negligent or wrongful, the surviving relatives of the deceased have a legal ground to file a wrongful death claim. But the question is, who exactly can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a deceased?
Each state has its way of approaching wrongful death lawsuits. In Arizona, the Arizona Revised Statute 12-612 states that only a statutory beneficiary can file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the deceased. These include:
- The surviving spouse
- Any surviving (adopted or biological) children
- A surviving guardian or parent
- A legal estate representative
All these beneficiaries have equal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, but only one (statutory plaintiff) can do it on behalf of the others. If no statutory beneficiaries survive, an estate representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased estate and include any competent person in a trust or will to represent the estate. A Mesa wrongful death lawyer can help a statutory plaintiff navigate the legal process on behalf of the beneficiaries or plaintiffs and obtain the highest compensation.
Potential Compensation in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
When someone is injured in Arizona, they’re entitled to compensation based on a defendant’s degree of fault. The same applies when the death of a person occurs due to negligence or wrongful acts by another individual. In other words, wrongful death claims are personal injury cases that the deceased might have filed for if their death hadn’t occurred. The most common forms of compensation in wrongful death claims fall under two categories, direct damages to the deceased and emotional and financial damages to the surviving family:
This category includes damages the deceased incurred at the time of their death. The compensation usually goes to the deceased estate or anyone responsible for the deceased final expenses. It covers:
- Funeral and burial costs: This money caters for decent funeral and burial arrangements for the deceased.
- The deceased final medical bills for injury or illness: If the deceased suffered an illness or injury from an accident, compensation might cover their treatment expenses from the injury or illness.
- Lost future income: If the deceased was earning a certain amount of income at the time of their death, compensation might be based on the value of the deceased’s future earning potential.
- Personal property losses: If damages to the deceased property occurred at the time of their death, such as an automobile crash, compensation might help recover the damaged property.
Also, compensation may cover their physical and emotional distress if the deceased experienced pain and suffering before their death.
Emotional and Financial Damages
The other type of damages that may be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit are emotional and financial damages to the surviving family. It compensates for the emotional and financial harm the surviving family may undergo due to the absence of the deceased. Compensation usually covers:
- Loss of guidance, love, and companionship
- Loss of financial assistance
- Punitive damages to punish the party at fault
Even though only one statutory beneficiary (statutory plaintiff) can file a wrongful death lawsuit, all beneficiaries are entitled to a share of the compensation. However, if an estate administrator files a wrongful death claim on behalf of an estate because none of the beneficiaries are alive, they may not receive this compensation.
The Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Arizona
If your loved one dies from another party’s wrongful act or negligence in Mesa, you have a limited timeframe (known as the “statute of limitations) to file a wrongful death lawsuit legally. According to Arizona Revised Statute 12-542, all statutory beneficiaries who desire to file a wrongful death claim have a two-year period from the time the deceased passes away.
Failure to file a wrongful death claim within the allocated time frame in Arizona could bear serious consequences. If you file a wrongful death lawsuit after the two years expires, the court will declare your claim invalid and may even bar you from pursuing the claim at all. This is why it is essential to file a wrongful death claim immediately. An experienced wrongful death attorney in Mesa, Arizona can help you start the process.
Expert Wrongful Death Attorneys in Arizona at Feller and Wendt
At Feller and Wendt, we understand that the death of a loved one can come as a shock. Many things run through your mind at such a time that you may not know where to begin. As you mourn, knowing that the best interest of you and your loved ones are taken care of can help in the healing process.
Our experienced Mesa wrongful death attorneys can help you pursue the legal avenues for a wrongful death claim. They are aggressive in pursuing justice on your behalf and employ different tactics when investigating your claim to ensure you have a winnable case in court. Contact us today at (801) 499-5060 or fill out our contact form to review the specifics of your case.