Fatalities on the highways are tragic events that often happen needlessly when drivers disrespect the law and other motorists while using the roadways. They occur all too often. However, the mere fact someone dies in an accident does not mean that a wrongful death claim may exist. Wrongful death cases are typically based on specific material evidence that indicates a negligent party acting with gross negligence during the mishap. Extenuating factors must exist for a wrongful death claim to even be pursued, and then it still takes the expertise of an experienced wrongful death and personal injury attorney to prove the additional level of liability.
How Wrongful Death Differs from Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims address financial recovery for different items than a wrongful death claim. A personal injury claim by the decedent’s estate is considered property of the victim and will include compensation for medical bills, lost wages when they apply, physical property damage, and general damages for pain-and-suffering from the time of the accident until the time of expiration. This becomes an important aspect of the claim when the victim does not die until well after the fact from sustained injuries. Wrongful death claims are considered property of the survivors and includes recovery for loss of consortium, funeral expenses, lost future financial support, and denial of an ongoing relationship with a parent or spouse.
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim
Proving a wrongful death action in Arizona largely depends on the degree of fault and liability. Arizona law generally states that any decedent who has standing for a personal injury claim could also be in line for a wrongful death claim for the family if the victim dies as a result of wrongful act, neglect, or default. This is a relatively low standard compared to some other states, but it still requires effective representation by an experienced attorney who understands how wrongful death can be proven. Degree of fault attributed to all drivers in an accident can easily impact a jury decision, and wrongful death claims usually must be won in a full trial. Aggravating circumstances such as a responsible driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time is a prime example of evidence establishing gross negligence in validating a wrongful death claim.
Always remember to hire an attorney who is experienced in wrongful death claims in Phoenix when this could be a possibility for the family. There is usually only one opportunity for financial recovery, and you should make sure it counts.