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Steps to Take When Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Arizona

Posted on April 5, 2021 in

The loss of a loved one is a devastating tragedy that is often overwhelming, emotional, and difficult. When a loved one passes away from illness or natural causes, there isn’t much you can do other than grieve and do your best to continue to live your life. However, if a loved one dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to pursue justice in Arizona by filing a wrongful death suit.

While no amount of money can ever truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, wrongful death lawsuits may provide a sense of closure for the surviving family and help aid in the recovery process.

What Is Considered as Wrongful Death in Arizona?

In the State of Arizona, if someone sustains an injury due to a reckless, criminal, or neglectful act of another, they have the ability to file a claim for compensation and damages through a personal injury lawyer. However, if the damages suffered in the accident are so severe that they cause the individual to die, a family member may be able to file a lawsuit for a wrongful death instead. People who may be able to file a wrongful death suit are:

  • Offspring
  • Spouse
  • Parent or guardian
  • A personal representative of the decedent’s estate
  • A personal representative of the decedent’s offspring, spouse, or parent/guardian

People who are not able to file a wrongful death claim in Arizona include:

  • Sibling
  • Grandparent
  • Same-sex partner
  • Cousin
  • Common-law spouse

When a surviving family member files a claim for wrongful death, they need to prove liability in the same way that the deceased would have had to prove liability if they had survived the incident. If the tortfeasor injured the victim intentionally, the underlying claim may be for battery, false imprisonment, assault, or whatever intentional tort resulted in the death of the victim.

The Process of Wrongful Death in Arizona

Arizona’s statute of limitations requires any claims for a wrongful death to be filed within two years of the person’s date of death. If the claim is not filed within the two-year period, your case could be thrown out of court. Wrongful death cases can become incredibly complicated, so it is vital that you contact an attorney as soon as possible so they can start building the strongest defense possible for your case. Here are the typical steps involved in an Arizona wrongful death case:

  • Preparing for litigation: In order to prepare for a wrongful death lawsuit, an investigation will need to be conducted, responsible parties will need to be identified, and the decedent’s estate will need to be set up with the county in which they resided.
  • Negotiating and settling: The party you are looking to sue may offer to settle outside of court. If an agreement can be made for a reasonable settlement, you may be able to avoid having to escalate your case to the courts.
  • Filing the suit: If a fair settlement can’t be reached through negotiation, you will need to file a Complaint or Writ of Summons through the courthouse and begin the lawsuit process.
  • Litigation: During this phase, expect phases of discovery, interrogation, document requests, and more. Pre-trial, trial, and/or arbitration occur and the judge or jury will issue their verdict at the end.

Coping with the death of a loved one and pursuing a legal case at the same time can be extremely painful and tiring for surviving family members. Wrongful death lawsuits are complex and require significant legal knowledge and attention. Seek out an experienced lawyer that can handle every aspect of your case from start to end, leaving you more time to properly grieve.

What Can Cause a Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death lawsuits have been filed for a plethora of negligent or reckless acts, but there are a few common categories that emerge in these lawsuits. These common causes of wrongful death include:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Workplace accidents
  • Airplane crashes
  • Defective products
  • Nursing home negligence
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Trucking accidents

If the circumstances of the death could amount to first- or second-degree murder or manslaughter charges, you can still file a claim for wrongful death. Criminal charges do not forfeit any civil wrongful death actions in Arizona.

Don’t Wait to Speak with an Arizona Wrongful Death Attorney

At Jensen Phelan Law Firm, we have over 50 years of combined experience helping clients in Prescott recover compensation for their wrongful death or injury cases. Our attorneys understand how important it is to obtain fair compensation after a serious accident and can offer you the best help available. If the fear of legal fees is holding you back, rest assured that our Fair Fee Guarantee means that our attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis—meaning no fees unless we win for you.

If you have questions or concerns about a recent accident, compensation for your injuries, the value of your claim, or other legal matters, call (928) 778-2660 or complete our online contact form for advice. We offer free consultations, and our Arizona injury lawyers serve residents all over Prescott Valley and the surrounding areas.