Wrong death cases are types of injury claims that are filed when an individual suffers the loss of a family member. Much like a personal injury claim, a wrongful death in Arizona is defined as a death that occurs due to the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another. All of the examples and types of personal injury claims listed above–dog bites, car accidents, product liability, premises liability, etc. can all be causes of action for a wrongful death claim as well,
It is important to note that a wrongful death claim is a type of civil action, not criminal action. This means that the defendant, if found to be liable for your loved one’s death, will not be convicted of a crime.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The laws vary state-by-state on who is legally permitted to file a wrongful death claim. In some states, on the decedent’s spouse or/and children are allowed to file a wrongful death claim. In Arizona, however, those who are permitted to file a wrongful death claim include those persons who have the following relationship with the deceased person:
- The surviving spouse;
- The surviving child;
- The surviving parent;
- The personal representative of the deceased’s parent, child, or spouse; and
- The personal representative of the deceased’s estate.
Another family member, such as a sibling or an uncle, is not permitted to file a wrongful death claim unless they are the personal representative of one of the parties named above, or the personal representative of the deceased’s estate.
Damages Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim
The damages that are recoverable in a wrongful death claim are slightly different than those which are recoverable in a standard personal injury claim. In Arizona, both economic and noneconomic damages are recoverable. The first type of damages, economic, refers to actual financial losses as a result of the death. This include damages such as funeral and burial expenses, medical bills related to the deceased’s injuries, the deceased’s lost wages and future wages, the deceased’s lost financial benefits, and any other financial losses.
The second type of damages, noneconomic damages, are damages for losses that are intangible. This includes the pain and suffering of the deceased, the pain and suffering of the plaintiff who is filing the claim, the loss of care, the loss of guidance, the loss of value of household services, and the loss of companionship of the deceased.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Just like all other personal injury claim types, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years’ time from the date of death. If the claim is not filed within this time frame, the plaintiff may be barred from recovering compensation.