Phoenix Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you have experienced the sudden, unexpected loss of a loved one in an accident that you believe was caused by another person's recklessness or wrongdoing, you may be entitled to take legal action against the responsible party. By filing a wrongful death claim against the negligent person, company, or entity, surviving family members can recover compensation to help cope with the unforeseen expenses and non-economic losses that often occur after a wrongful death.
After suffering such a tragic loss in the family, it is understandable that taking legal action may seem like an additional burden, but it is important to speak with a Phoenix injury attorney as soon as possible to explore your options for gaining restitution. At Breyer Law Offices P.C., our wrongful death lawyers understand that the absence of a loved one is devastating and will work closely with you to ensure that your best interests are protected. While no amount of money can erase the past, compensation can offset financial strain that may affect your future. Call us for a free consultation at (602) 457-6222 or submit an online contact form.
Phoenix Wrongful Death Client Testimonial
What Is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death can be an accident or a deliberate unjust act of another person or entity that causes someone to die.
What Rights Do Family Members Have When a Loved One Has Died Wrongfully?
Immediate family members have the right to claim wrongful death damages against the person who caused their loved one's death. In Arizona, immediate family members include a spouse, parent, or child. If the victim did not have a spouse, child, or surviving parents, the estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit with the proceeds combined with the victim's assets.
Who May Sue for Wrongful Death?
When a person passes away, it is likely that many lives will be affected by the loss and in some cases, experience economic consequences. However, not everyone is entitled to sue the at-fault party for damages. In Arizona, courts allow the following individuals to file a wrongful death claim:
- A surviving spouse
- Parents or guardians
- Representatives of the deceased estates on a spouse, child, or parent’s behalf
It is important to note that a lawyer should act on behalf of the survivors, also known as beneficiaries, to ensure that the case is both uncomplicated and efficient, especially if there are several family members involved. The courts generally follow the line of succession as listed above when determining who can receive compensation in a wrongful death claim, but it can become more complicated if multiple family members try to file a claim or demand a certain portion of the claim. Working with an attorney may be necessary to ensure you are not cut out of a claim.
In addition, a surviving spouse typically has to file on behalf of a surviving child, especially if they are a minor. Even if the child is an adult, the spouse would gain precedence.
Through legal action, it is possible for families to not only gain closure and a sense of justice, but also financial compensation for past, current, and future expenses. A wrongful death settlement includes damages for many other costs the family has incurred due to their loved one's death. A wrongful death settlement in Arizona can include damages for:
- Medical expenses for past treatment
- Loss of income and services if the victim had lived
- Funeral/burial expenses
- Loss of consortium, including companionship, love, and care
- Pain and suffering, such as the emotional and mental anguish associated with grief
- Punitive damages that are intended to punish the at-fault party
Every case is unique, and a jury will determine the amount of damages that may be awarded based on the circumstances of the victim's death, the victim's income and expected future earnings, and the non-economic losses suffered by each eligible survivor.
In addition to economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages may also be awarded in certain wrongful death cases. Punitive damages are not limited by the monetary value of the losses the family of the deceased has suffered. They are designed to punish the responsible party for wrongdoing and to deter similar actions by others in the future. For example, if a driver makes an error and unintentionally causes a fatal accident, punitive damages will probably not be included in the award. However, if the driver who causes a fatal accident is DUI at the time of the crash, a crime has been committed and punitive damages could potentially be awarded in court.
It is important to note that like a personal injury claim, wrongful death claims have a deadline. In the state of Arizona, survivors must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the death in order to be eligible for compensation. Failure to take legal action within the statute of limitations can result in losing the right to assert a wrongful death claim. While a statute of limitations is generally strict, there are unique circumstances in which an individual may be able to file a claim after the specific time period has expired. An experienced and knowledgeable lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and determine whether you still have a potential claim.
If you are still within the statute of limitations and fit one of the above criteria on who can file a claim, then you can begin the process for filing a claim. First, you will need to have your case reviewed by a lawyer. We can properly assess if you have a valid case and, if we choose to take you on as a client, launch an in-depth investigation into your loved one’s death.
During this period, we will collect evidence of negligence, review liability policies, and determine how much compensation you should receive from the at-fault party. This may include looking at your loved one’s financial records to estimate their lost wages and speaking to their doctors to evaluate their pain and suffering before their passing.
Negligence and liability in a wrongful death claim are very similar to a personal injury claim. If an individual owed your loved one a duty of care while they were alive and, through an act of negligence, they broke that duty, you have a right to file a claim on their behalf. Wrongful death claims are based on the idea that the deceased would have been eligible to file a claim if they had survived. Thus, the same pieces of evidence that apply in a personal injury claim may be utilized in a wrongful death claim.
Once we are ready, we will contact the at-fault party, the defendant in this case, to inform them of our intentions to file a claim for damages. This will lead into settlement discussions where we will negotiate with their attorney to achieve a fair offer. If they do not wish to settle or their offer is not enough, we can then move into a lawsuit.
One of the most important questions in a wrongful death claim is whether to accept a settlement offer from the responsible party or to take your case to court for a decision. This is an area in which it is important to have sound legal counsel from a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney.
You will most likely be dealing with lawyers or representatives of the negligent party’s insurance company who have the best interests of their own client at heart. Almost invariably, they will try to get the injured party to accept a lowball offer in an attempt to minimize the amount the company has to pay out.
At Breyer Law Offices, P.C., we have the knowledge and experience to accurately assess the full extent of your damages and negotiate skillfully with the other side on your behalf. In fact, attorney Mark Breyer is a certified specialist in injury and wrongful death law in Arizona. If you receive a settlement offer, we can advise you of whether or not it represents full and fair compensation for the losses you have suffered.
If a fair settlement offer is made, acceptance is often the best option, as it can save you the time spent on a lengthy trial and the expense of litigation. Also, when a case is brought to court, it is never guaranteed who will win or lose. Nevertheless, you should not have to settle for less than a fair level of financial compensation for losses you have suffered, and we are ready to fight aggressively for your rights in court when necessary.
In many cases, having a legal team on your side who already has an impressive track record of favorable outcomes can make all the difference in the settlement offer. If the other side knows you are represented by personal injury attorneys who will arrive in court fully prepared and will not back down in fighting for your rights and interests, a reasonable settlement is likely to be offered. Our firm has a history of success, with 98% of our cases concluded successfully.
The compassionate Phoenix personal injury legal team at Breyer Law Offices, P.C. understands the needs of a grieving family, and will work tirelessly to ensure that you gain the compensation you need and deserve. Mark and Alexis Breyer have years of experience defending clients who have suffered emotional and financial losses as the result of another's negligent actions or wrongdoing. Please contact us to learn more about your options for recovery. Your first consultation is always free. Call us at (602) 457-6222.
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During a free consultation, we will look at the important aspects of your case, answer your questions, and explain your legal rights and options clearly. All submissions are confidentially reviewed by Mark Breyer.
Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer