In Arizona, when a person dies due to another party’s actions, intentional or otherwise, the deceased person’s family members could be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Here, we’ll examine several essential aspects of the laws that apply to these cases and go over 4 things to know about wrongful death lawsuits in Arizona.
What is “Wrongful Death” in Arizona?
According to Arizona Revised Statutes 12-611, wrongful death is a death caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default. In other words, a wrongful death occurs when an individual dies as the result of the legal fault of another person. This includes intentional acts against the deceased, negligence-based death, such as a car accident, or medical malpractice.
Unlike a criminal homicide case, a defendant’s liability in a successful wrongful death case results only in financial penalties paid to the deceased person’s survivors or estate (rather than jail time, fines paid to the state, probation, or more severe repercussions). Wrongful death lawsuits are filed in civil court rather than criminal court (where homicide cases are tried).
Who can file a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Arizona?
A wrongful death case may be brought to court if the deceased person could have filed a personal injury lawsuit based on the wrongful or negligent conduct that caused their death. When the injuries lead to death, the injured cannot bring the claim on their own behalf, and someone else must step in and file the lawsuit.
According to Arizona law, the following people are permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state’s civil courts:
- The deceased person’s surviving spouse
- Any surviving child of the deceased person
- A surviving parent or guardian of the deceased person
- The deceased person’s representative or executor, on behalf of a surviving spouse, child, parent, or estate if none of those people survived the deceased
Anyone who holds one of the above relationships with the deceased is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
What must be Proven for a Wrongful Death suit to be Valid?
When a wrongful death claim is filed, the family member of the deceased or individual who filed the suit must prove liability the same way the deceased would have had they survived the negligent or wrongful act and filed a personal injury suit. In order for a wrongful death lawsuit to be viable, the elements of negligence must be proved. Mainly, it must be established that the individual is allegedly responsible for the death:
1) owed the deceased a duty of care;
2) that the duty was breached; and,
3) that the breach of care directly (proximate cause) led to the wrongful death.
How Long do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Arizona?
According to the Arizona statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits, all wrongful death lawsuits in Arizona must be filed within (2) two years of death. If the case isn’t filed in this time period, the civil court will likely refuse to hear it all together, according to Arizona Statute 12-542.
If you’re considering a wrongful death lawsuit in Arizona, an experienced personal injury attorney should be your first call. Wrongful death lawsuits can be complicated, and having an attorney familiar with the ins and outs of the process in YOUR corner will be extremely beneficial. Jeff GOULD Law, the Attorney in YOUR Corner, will fight for your rights and obtain maximum recovery for you and your family every time.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this blog/site is NOT, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. It is for general informational use only. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Further, this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.