Wrongful Death

Phoenix Wrongful Death Lawyers Helping Families Move Forward

Strong advocacy on behalf of Arizona families who have lost a loved one because of the negligence of another

Losing someone you love is never easy, even when you have had time to prepare for it. When you haven’t had that time, and especially if someone’s negligence caused the loss — the emotional, psychological and financial realities of such a loss can be overwhelming.

At Plattner Verderame, P.C., we understand that taking legal action right after losing a loved one in a fatal accident may not be your first priority. But obtaining justice and making certain that your loved one’s story is heard may depend on it. Our dependable Phoenix wrongful death lawyers provide the aggressive representation necessary to prepare a case for trial while remaining sensitive to the family’s mourning process. We have the resources and the working relationships to thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and hold the responsible parties accountable.

Can you file a wrongful death claim for an accidental death of my loved one?

Yes, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit even when the outcome was unintentional. Under A.R.S. 12-611, a person may file a wrongful death claim when the death of their loved one “is caused by wrongful act, neglect or default.” In most cases, the neglect or wrongful act was not intended to cause harm, or to lead to the death of your family member. The person who is texting while driving and runs stop sign did not intend to cause anyone’s death – but they are responsible under the law because they chose to gamble other people’s lives with their dangerous behavior.

When dangerous behavior causes fatality, the person or company which caused the death is “at fault” for the death. In some cases, a defendant may be strictly liable for the design, manufacture or sale of an unreasonably dangerous product (for examples, drugs such as Fen-Phen, SUVs that roll over, tires that suddenly lose their tread, gas tanks on cars that explode in rear-end impacts, etc.)

Elements of wrongful death claims

In Arizona, the surviving spouse, parents, children, or personal representative of the deceased can bring a wrongful death action. Wrongful death claim damages include:

  • The loss of love, affection, companionship, care, protection, and guidance, since the death and in the future.
  • The pain, grief, sorrow, anguish, stress, shock, and mental suffering already experienced, and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future.
  • The income and services that have already been lost as a result of the death, and that are reasonably probable to be lost in the future.
  • The reasonable expenses of funeral and burial.
  • The reasonable expenses of necessary medical care and services for the injury that resulted in the death.

Read more: Criteria for Filing a Wrongful Death Suit in Arizona

What are some examples of wrongful death cases?

Phoenix wrongful death actions and claims can be the result of many types of preventable situations. Examples of some of the cases our firm has handled include:

What’s the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death action in Phoenix?

Every state has specific statutes regarding wrongful death claims, which are often similar to personal injury lawsuits, with a few exceptions. These cases still involve negligence, but since the injuries to the victim were fatal, the court process and damages the plaintiff can claim are different.

The statute of limitations (SOL) for filing a wrongful death suit can vary. Some cases can be filed within two years. In cases involving workers’ compensation or dog bites, the SOL is one year. If a governmental entity is a defendant, there is the six-month notice of claim and one year suit filing requirement. This means in some cases, your right to bring a claim can be lost in as little as 180 days.

If you believe that your loved one’s death was someone else’s fault, you should seek legal counsel as soon as you can, or you could be barred from collecting any damages you may be entitled to receive.

Which family members are entitled to wrongful death benefits?

In a wrongful death case, the surviving spouse, children (adults or minors), and parents of the deceased are entitled to claim for their loss. These are known as statutory beneficiaries, because the only people who can make claims are in the categories defined by statute.

A single claim is brought on behalf of all beneficiaries. In most cases, a single law firm can represent all of the family members with no conflicts of interest, but sometimes separate representation is required where there is animosity among family members, or if they do not agree on the case objectives, or how the funds recovered will be divided. All statutory beneficiaries must agree for a settlement to occur, otherwise the case must be tried and the jury will apportion the damages to each beneficiary.

Why should I file a wrongful death claim if a criminal case is pending?

Some clients ask us why they should file a wrongful death action against the person responsible for the death of their loved one, when there is already a criminal case pending against them by authorities. There are several important reasons to file a civil action. Usually, the most important reason is that money damages can do something good in the world that punishing a criminal defendant cannot. Maybe it is supporting the family, paying for college, creating a charitable fund, etc. You would have the opportunity to decide what your lost loved one would want you to do with the money and what would make them proud. On the other hand, not making a claim against a wrongdoer who causes death is essentially making a gift to the wrongdoer’s insurance company.  Is that what your lost loved one would have wanted you to do?

Read more:

Contact a Phoenix wrongful death attorney to obtain justice for your loved one

Time is of the essence in a wrongful death lawsuit. There are strict deadlines for how long after the victim’s death a case can be brought. Practically, the sooner a Phoenix wrongful death lawyer begins the case review, the better case can be prepared. For professional and compassionate help, call Plattner & Verderame, P.C. today at 602-491-0314, toll free at 888-657-3573, or contact us for a free consultation. Our firm takes cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we are paid only if the case settles or there is a court verdict.


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