An Overview of Arizona Wrongful Death Lawsuits

By on November 7, 2012

There are few things as heartbreaking as losing a loved one to a tragic — and yet preventable — accident.

Nothing can undo the negligent act that caused your family member to die. However, an Arizona fatal accident lawyer can help you seek justice by bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for your loved one's death.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action?

Wrongful death actions are brought by and on behalf of the deceased person's survivors. Under Arizona law, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by a surviving spouse, child, parent or guardian. The recovery will be split amongst the survivors in a manner equal to their respective losses.

Alternatively, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by the decedent's personal representative. If the decedent did not have a surviving spouse, child, parent or guardian, the recovery will become an asset of the deceased person's estate.

What Damages Can Be Recovered?

Wrongful death verdicts will vary from case to case depending on the nature of the accident. The standard jury instruction used in Arizona allows the the decedent's beneficiaries to be compensated for the following losses:

  • The loss of the decedent's love, affection, companionship, care, protection and guidance
  • The family's pain, grief, sorrow, anguish, stress, shock and mental suffering
  • The income and services that will be lost as a result of the death
  • Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
  • Reasonable medical expenses incurred as a result of caring for the decedent before he or she died

Notably, plaintiffs in an Arizona wrongful death lawsuit cannot recover for the deceased person's pain and suffering. This is true even if the decedent was party to a personal injury lawsuit before he or she died.

In cases where the death was caused by extreme misconduct, survivors may also be able to recover punitive damages. These damages are not intended to compensate for actual losses but are instead designed to punish the wrongdoer and deter future misdeeds.

Much of the recovery in a wrongful death lawsuit depends on how well lawyer tells your story to the jury. If your loved one has been killed in a fatal accident, contact an experienced Arizona wrongful death attorney who can help you seek justice.