Losing a loved one is one of the greatest challenges we can face in our lives. If your family member is suddenly torn away, especially if their passing is due to someone else’s negligence, the emotional and financial impact of this situation is overwhelming. Your loved one had the right to a full, enjoyable life.
Whoever the responsible party or parties may be, they can and should be held to account. One way to do this is to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. It will not bring your loved one back, but it can ensure that the negligent party is held responsible for your loss.
What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
Wrongful death claims are civil claims brought by the children, spouse, or parents of the deceased against a negligent party when the:
death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action to recover damages in respect thereof, then, and in every such case, the person who or the corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death was caused under such circumstances as amount in law to murder in the first or second degree or manslaughter.
In plain language, certain family members can bring a wrongful death claim in situations where, had the deceased survived, he or she could have filed a personal injury lawsuit for damages instead. But because the injury was fatal, and the deceased cannot bring his or her own claim, the family members must bring that claim instead.
Wrongful death claims do not require intent. A driver who falls asleep at the wheel certainly did not intend to do so, and certainly did set out to harm anyone that day. But when negligence leads to a fatal accident, Arizona provides this avenue of recourse for families to seek justice.
Who is responsible for a wrongful death claim in a fatal crash?
Liability in any car accident, let alone a fatal crash, is not always limited to the driver involved. In Phoenix, our wrongful death and car accident attorneys recognize that multiple parties are often responsible for a single crash. Along with the driver, it may be necessary to pursue claims against the following parties:
- The vehicle owner: If the accident was caused by someone driving a car, truck, or vehicle owned by another individual or entity, the owner can be held responsible.
- Manufacturers, distributors, or sellers of defective vehicles or parts: If the accident was a result of a defective vehicle or faulty part, such as a malfunctioning seat belt, those involved in manufacturing, distributing, or selling the defective product can be held liable.
- Restaurants or bars: Under Arizona’s “dram shop” laws, an establishment may be held liable if they serve an underage customer or continue to serve an obviously intoxicated patron, and then that underage or drunk patron gets into a car accident that leads to injuries or death.
- Trucking companies: If a truck driver was pressured by a shipping company to prioritize profits over safety, resulting in an accident, the company can be held liable for their negligence.
- Local government or businesses responsible for road design or maintenance: If a faulty road design or subpar maintenance contributed to the accident, the state of Arizona, counties, or other government and business entities responsible for the road can be held accountable.
Identifying all parties responsible for a deadly crash ensures that your family receives the justice they deserve from all negligent parties. Our partners are Board Certified by the Arizona Supreme Court in Wrongful Death litigation, and our entire team is well-equipped to handle any complex claim.
How common are car crashes in Arizona?
When it comes to wrongful death in Phoenix, car crashes are a leading culprit. Car crashes are a significant risk to both motorists and pedestrians. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), the state experienced a staggering number of car accidents in 2020 – 121,345 in total, leading to 1,180 deaths. The Phoenix metropolitan area alone accounted for a significant portion of these incidents, with 40,833 accidents leading to 294 deaths.
Pedestrians and motorcyclists are more vulnerable to critical injuries on Phoenix roadways. In 2021, there were 1,714 accidents involving pedestrians and 2,594 accidents involving motorcycles, underscoring the importance of promoting road safety.
What are the most common causes of fatal car accidents?
Overall, the leading cause of fatal car crashes is negligence, whether it’s a driver’s or someone else’s. Specifically, the most common acts of negligence that result in fatal wrecks include:
- Speeding and reckless driving: Excessive speed and reckless behavior on the roads reduce the driver’s ability to react to unexpected situations and maintain control of the vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s data shows that in 2021, speeding was a contributing factor in 29% of the nation’s fatal car crashe
- Distracted driving: Distractions like texting, talking on the phone, eating, or general diversion of the driver’s attention lead to a higher chance of collisions.
- Drunk or drugged driving: The ADOT reported that alcohol played a role in 286 fatal crashes in 2021, resulting in the deaths of 215 individuals. Additionally, a striking number of accidents—5,620 in total—were found to be alcohol-related.
- Negligence from truck driver or trucking company: Collisions involving commercial trucks can have severe consequences due to their size and weight. Factors such as driver fatigue, inadequate maintenance, or improper loading can contribute to these accidents.
- Faulty car parts: Malfunctioning or defective car parts, such as brakes, tires, or steering systems, can cause accidents. This can result from manufacturing defects, inadequate maintenance, or failure to address recalls promptly.
Let our Phoenix wrongful death attorneys help when you need it most
No matter what the cause of the crash was, it resulted in an irreparable loss for your loved one and for you. No lawsuit is going to change that outcome.
We also know that death creates untold stress on families at a time when they are at their most vulnerable. Along with a never-ending deluge of paperwork comes medical bills, repair ship bills, and the everyday expenses like mortgages and groceries. There are unexpected costs, like counseling for your children, having to purchase a new vehicle, or needing daycare services. And all these expenses come at a time when you’re grieving and may be unable to work.
You shouldn’t have to bear those burdens. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can help you protect your family and your home. It can ensure that your children get the help they need, whether in school or with a therapist. They can also provide you with some level of closure, knowing that the person or entity whose negligence caused this loss will be held accountable.
After a tragedy, you need time to mourn and rebuild within your family. The experienced team of attorneys at Plattner Verderame, P.C. will handle the legal side of this matter while you focus on your family. We are here to help, with offices in Phoenix and Tempe. Call or contact us today for your free consultation. We invite you to read our testimonial pages to show how our passion for fulfilling justice is felt by our clients.
Partner Frank Verderame is a seasoned trial attorney, who has dedicated his life to helping victims of serious injuries. He is a Board Certified Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation, and has been an active part of legal communities and organizations since he started his practice, back in 1983.
Read more about Frank Verderame