Questions and Answers about Wrongful Death Cases

 

Q: What is a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death action is a civil action to recover money damages against the responsible party by the family members or estate of a person who was killed.

Arizona statues set forth the wrongful death action as follows:

A.R.S. § 12-611. Liability

When death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action to recover damages in respect thereof, then, and in every such case, the person who or the corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death was caused under such circumstances as amount in law to murder in the first or second degree or manslaughter.

Q: Who can file a wrongful death claim?

Arizona law allows certain family members or personal representative to bring a wrongful death action

A.R.S. § 12-612. Parties plaintiff; recovery; distribution

A. An action for wrongful death shall be brought by and in the name of the surviving husband or wife, child, parent or guardian, or personal representative of the deceased person for and on behalf of the surviving husband or wife, children or parents, or if none of these survive, on behalf of the decedent's estate.

B. Either parent may maintain the action for the death of a child, and the guardian may maintain the action for the death of the guardian's ward.

Q: What damages can I recover as a result of a wrongful death?

A.R.S. § 12-613. Measure of damages; nonliability for debts of decedent

In an action for wrongful death, the jury shall give such damages as it deems fair and just with reference to the injury resulting from the death to the surviving parties who may be entitled to recover, and also having regard to the mitigating or aggravating circumstances attending the wrongful act, neglect or default. The amount recovered in such action shall not be subject to debts or liabilities of the deceased, unless the action is brought on behalf of the decedent's estate.

Q: What causes a wrongful death?

Wrongful deaths are caused by the negligence, recklessness or intentional actions of another person.  Wrongful deaths are often the result of an automobile accident, motorcycle accident, pedestrian collision or bicycle accident.