Losing a loved one is never easy. It’s especially difficult to deal with when their death happens suddenly and even more so when it could have been prevented. A wrongful death isn’t just emotionally devastating—it can also throw a family into financial instability due to piling medical bills and loss of income and other support provided by the decedent. As a surviving spouse, child, or parent of the deceased, you may be able to hold the person or company that caused your family member’s death responsible through a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you’re coping with a wrongful death, continue reading to learn about the different types of compensation that can help you recover as much as possible so you can take care of your family.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a legal action to get compensation for the loss of a loved one caused by another party’s negligence or because of a malicious act. The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to recover damages incurred due to an individual’s untimely death, including financial and emotional losses.
What are Causes of Wrongful Death?
Wrongful deaths can be caused by a reckless person, a negligent company, a greedy manufacturer, or any other entity whose failure to take reasonable safety measures leads to a person’s death.
Some common circumstances that may be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit include:
If your loved one was killed in an auto accident caused by speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence, or any other severe negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim on your loved one’s behalf. This type of wrongful death claim can also apply for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists killed by motor vehicles.
When an infant or their mother dies because of a birth injury or a medical mistake, a surviving parent or family member can hold the at-fault medical staff accountable for their deadly mistake.
Doctors, surgeons, and medical staff are required by law to provide patients with a certain level of care. If your loved one died as a result of a hospital or healthcare worker’s negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
Motor vehicle accidents involving semi trucks have a tendency to be deadly due to the size difference between the two vehicles and the amount of force exerted during the collision. If the truck driver or trucking company behaved negligently and those actions caused a fatality, you can seek compensation for your loved one’s death.
Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
The types of damages you may be eligible for in an Arizona wrongful death case depend on your relationship to the deceased and how their death occurred. These damages can include economic and non-economic damages. In some situations, punitive damages may be awarded when an at-fault party’s actions are especially egregious.
Economic damages in an Arizona wrongful death claim include monetary values such as medical bills, lost wages, and funeral costs.
Even if your loved one passed away shortly after they were injured, medical bills can still be substantial. The average daily cost of hospitalization in the United States is $3,949. When you combine that with the expenses of an ambulance, prescription drugs, medical devices, and other various treatments, it can put a strain on a household’s finances. In situations where the deceased acquired medical bills before their death, their estate is eligible to recover those costs. Before someone passes after a bad accident, it’s not uncommon for medical bills to add up to well over $100,000.
If you depended on your loved one’s income for financial stability, the loss of their paycheck can leave you wondering how you’ll make ends meet. Fortunately, you can pursue the lost wages that your loved one would have likely provided had they survived. An experienced wrongful death attorney will evaluate your loved one’s income and any possible promotions, raises, and bonuses so that you can get the compensation that properly fits your circumstances.
If your loved one lost wages because they were out of work before succumbing to their fatal injuries, that money can be recovered as well.
Funeral and Burial Costs
The average cost of a funeral in Arizona is close to $7,000. It’s a crippling expense to pay out of pocket. However, you don’t have to absorb those costs if your loved one was wrongfully killed by another person’s negligence. The at-fault party can be held liable for final expenses, including burial or cremation costs.
Damages go beyond bills and income when a loved one is taken away too soon. Because the law recognizes that people are more than just dollar signs, you can also recover non-economic damages in Arizona. These damages can include pain and suffering and loss of companionship.
Pain and Suffering
Since coping with a loved one’s death is difficult emotionally, you can recover compensation for your pain and suffering. Placing a price tag on your trauma and mental anguish can be complicated. An experienced attorney will know what evidence to present to demonstrate the ways you’re suffering. This may include testimonies from those who are close to you, records of counseling you’ve received, and the new financial burdens that cause you stress.
You may also be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering suffered by your loved one before their passing.
Loss of Companionship
The loss of companionship that a person suffers when their spouse or parent is taken away can’t truly be replaced by money. However, compensation is one of the few ways the law can deliver justice. Surviving spouses can be compensated for the partnership they’ve lost, including the lost intimacy and emotional support. Surviving children can also collect since they lose the love and guidance only a parent can provide.
The final category of damages in a wrongful death case includes punitive damages. At-fault parties may be ordered to pay punitive damages if a court finds that their actions were especially reckless. Punitive damages are meant to punish the at-fault party and to deter others from behaving in a similar way. Punitive damages are not common and are reserved for cases where there was extreme negligence or disregard for the safety of others.
How are Damages Calculated?
Damages for a wrongful death claim are calculated differently from one case to the next. For example, the age of surviving children can impact the value of a wrongful death claim. Children who are minors likely need more financial support than adult children.
Similarly, the age of the deceased individual when they passed can impact a claim’s value. For example, there are more years of lost wages for an accident victim that is 30 years old versus a victim in their 60s. The descendant’s income level is another factor that will impact the lost wages calculation.
An experienced Arizona personal injury attorney will address the nuances of your case and how juries and courts have responded in the past to similar issues. The severity of the incident, how it affected the decedent’s estate, and the length of those repercussions will all be considered when determining your wrongful death claim compensation amount.
Contact a Phoenix Wrongful Death Attorney
If you are the surviving relative of an accident victim, contact a wrongful death attorney at Abels & Annes. Our attorneys can help you to navigate the complexities of a wrongful death claim while keeping in mind how your loved one’s death has affected your family financially and emotionally.
Our goal is to recover maximum compensation so that you can move forward with some peace of mind. Call us at 855-749-5299 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.