What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

When a family loses a loved one suddenly in an accident, it is often difficult for the family to cope with this tragic loss. When the accident was caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party, the survivors of the victim can file a wrongful death lawsuit against that party for the losses their loved one’s death has caused them to suffer. The following is a brief overview of wrongful death lawsuits. For more detailed information, contact a wrongful death lawyer Phoenix, AZ trusts to speak with one of our wrongful death attorneys.

A family may also file a wrongful death lawsuit as a way to seek justice against the party or parties whose actions caused their loved one’s death. This is especially true if the family feels that the criminal justice system has been unable to do so. For example, if the victim was killed in a car accident caused by a driver who was talking to a passenger in their vehicle and was not paying full attention to the road, there would likely be no criminal trial because the behavior of the driver was not criminal. However, the behavior of the driver could be considered negligent because all drivers owe a duty of care to stay focused on the road when they are behind the wheel. Therefore, the victim’s family could file a wrongful death lawsuit based on that negligence.

However, if the driver who caused the crash had been drinking and that’s why the fatal crash occurred, there likely would be criminal charges filed against the driver because he broke the law. In these situations, where the driver has been arrested and charged with a crime related to the fatal accident, the victim’s family can still file a wrongful death lawsuit, regardless of whether the criminal case is still pending or if the driver is convicted. There is a different burden of proof for criminal and civil cases. A wrongful death attorney can explain those differences, as well as what the statute of limitations may be in your case. It is critical to file your lawsuit before that statute expires.

Wrongful death lawsuits can cover many of the losses the victim’s family has endured. This includes medical expenses for life-saving attempts after the incident that killed the victim, funeral and burial expenses, emotional anguish of the family, loss of the victim’s financial support, loss of the victim’s emotional support and guidance, and loss of companionship. In incidents where the at-fault party’s behavior was egregious, the family may even be awarded punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the at-fault party and send a message to society that these acts will not be accepted, such as in the case of a drunk driving crash.

There are many types of fatal incidents that a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed on. These include:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Premises liability
  • Workplace accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective products
  • Negligent supervision
  • Sexual assault

 

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into wrongful death lawsuits.