Wrongful Death Litigation
Wrongful death cases, involving loss of life are among the most tragic cases, and can also be legally complicated. Only limited categories of relatives can bring a wrongful death case for the loss of a loved one.
Often, time is of the essence in order to preserve your rights when a loved one dies. The wrongful death attorneys at Zwillinger Wulkan have the knowledge, skill, and experience to successfully handle many types of wrongful death cases.
Contact us immediately if you, or someone you love, has lost a family member recently under questionable circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wrongful death cases are civil actions made by the survivors of an individual who has passed away due to the negligence or misconduct of another.
In these cases, the law allows the family members of the decedent (called “distributees”) to file a wrongful death suit seeking monetary damages.
The wrongful death action is designed to provide compensation for relatives who depended upon the deceased for financial and emotional support.
Pursuant to the Arizona wrongful death statute, only the spouse, natural or legally adoptive parents, and natural or legally adopted children can bring a wrongful death claim.
Unfortunately, this means that that siblings, grand parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, stepparents and stepchildren cannot bring claims for the wrongful death of a loved one.
Wrongful death occurs when negligence, recklessness, or deliberate behavior results in a fatality.
Negligence refers to the failure of an individual to behave how a reasonably prudent person would have acted under similar circumstances.
To establish that a wrongful death occurred, an attorney must prove that the individual had a duty of care to the deceased, their act or omission breached that standard of care, their wrongful actions were the proximate (direct) cause of the injury or death of the decedent, and damages resulted.
Some of the most common causes of wrongful death include:
The court will consider a number of factors when determining the amount of damages to be awarded to the survivors of the deceased. These factors include the relationship between the survivor and the deceased, the amount of the deceased’s net income available to the survivor, the replacement value of the deceased’s services, and the life expectancy of all parties.
As described below, an individual’s relationship to the decedent may entitle them to certain benefits.
Spouse — A surviving spouse may recover compensation for the loss of the decedent's companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
Children — Minor children may seek compensation for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
Parent — Each parent of a deceased minor child may recover compensation for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. Each parent of an adult child may also recover compensation for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors.
All — Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent's injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death, reduced to present value. In addition, medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent's injury or death may be recovered by the survivor who has paid them.
In addition to the aforementioned compensatory damages, a court may also choose to impose punitive damages. Punitive damages are appropriate in situations where a party’s intentional, reckless, or grossly negligent actions result in a wrongful death. These damages serve to punish the offending party, as well as discourage others from behaving similarly in the future.