Understanding What the Term “Wrongful Death” Means
The term “wrongful death” refers to a situation where someone has died as a result of someone else’s negligence or willful act. When a person is merely hurt by the negligent or willful acts of another, this is referred to as a personal injury lawsuit, and the person injured can proceed with a lawsuit. When an injured person dies, however, the lawsuit is filed by othersas a Wrongful Death lawsuit.
Understanding Who Files a Wrongful Death Suit
A Wrongful Death Suit may be filed by:
- A surviving husband or wife
- A child
- A parent
- A guardian
- A personal representative of the deceased person and on behalf of the surviving:
A wrongful death lawsuit can also be filed on behalf of the decedent’s estatewhen there are no survivors as listed above.
Understanding How the Funds in a Successful Wrongful Death Suit Are Distributed
When a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, there is typically a monetary award, which is intended to compensate the survivors for their loss. The sum is divided, under Arizona law, in proportion to the damage suffered by each person listed above. It is important to understand that this determination of proportionate damages is not a determination of how much each party loved or misses the deceased. There is simply no way to calculate that.
Understanding How the Jury Determines the Amount of Damages
When evaluating a wrongful death claim, courts instruct jurors to award damages they believe are fair and just, taking into consideration the loss to the survivors. Jurors consider many factors, including:
- The extent to which one or more survivors was financially dependent on the deceased
- Historical earnings of the deceased
- Potential future earnings the deceased would have made had they not died
- Medical costs related to treatment prior to death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Emotional damages experienced by survivors
Jurors are instructed to consider both mitigating and aggravating circumstances surrounding the event that led to the death. Wrongful death lawyers in Phoenix, Arizona understand the importance of presenting the facts of each case in a way that conveys to the jury who the decedent was. Having a true sense of who someone was encourages jurors to more closely evaluate the factors they must consider when determining compensation for the loss.
Understanding the Intent of an Award
Because the proceeds of a wrongful death suit are intended to compensate the survivors, the amount settled on or awarded by a jury may not be used to pay the liabilities of the deceased, unless the suit is filed on behalf of the decedent’s estate.
When a Family Loses a Loved One
When families lose a loved one, many wonder if they may have a claim for wrongful death. The only way to know for sure is to talk to experienced wrongful death lawyers in Phoenix, Arizona.
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