What is “wrongful death”?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a different type of lawsuit that can be filed when a person dies as the result of a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person or corporation. A wrongful death can arise due to:
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Birth trauma
- Car, truck, or commercial vehicle crash
- Product defect
To qualify as a plaintiff to bring a wrongful death lawsuit you must be any one of the following: the surviving (1) husband, (2) wife, (3) child, (4) parent or guardian, or (5) personal representative of the deceased person for and on behalf of the husband, wife, child, parent or guardian, or if none exist, on behalf of the deceased’s estate. Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within the applicable statute of limitations. In Arizona, typically statute of limitations for a wrongful death case is two years from the date of death. There are some exceptions to that rule. For example, if the death was caused by a governmental entity or employee, you must file what is known as a notice of claim within 180 days of the death. Additionally, if you are under the age of 18, you may be able to wait to file a wrongful death lawsuit until two years after your 18th birthday or 180 days after your 18th birthday if the death was caused by a governmental entity or employee. Failure to file a lawsuit or notice of claim by the applicable statute of limitations may preclude you from ever doing so.
What are the damages in a wrongful death lawsuit?
In a wrongful death case, you may be entitled to seek damages for:
- The loss of love, affection, companionship, care, protection, and guidance since the death of the deceased 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 injuries that resulted in the death.
In addition to those damages, if the death was caused as a result of the intentional, knowing, or reckless conduct or by the conscious disregard of another, you may be entitled to seek what are known as punitive damages to punish the person or corporation for the death.
What else do you need to know about wrongful death cases?
Losing a loved one is a terrible experience which is only made worse by the negligent or intentional acts of another. The cases can be very complicated, so it is critically important that you and your family have a law firm representing you that not only has the experience in litigating wrongful death cases, but also the financial resources to do so. Insurance companies (even those for doctors and hospitals) will always try to convince you to settle your claim for less than it is worth. If you do not have proper representation, you could fall victim to that scheme.
If you or a loved one believe has lost a family member due to negligence, contact the experienced wrongful death lawyers at Snyder & Wenner, P.C.