Navigating the loss of a loved one after a fatal auto accident is the most devastating and emotionally challenging time and when faced with an impending lawsuit, it can feel almost impossible. Every fatal accident has a personal story too, whether the loss was a mother, father, son, daughter, or sibling, it’s the family left behind that are left to navigate through their grief.
At times like this, it’s so important to have a professional and reliable auto injury accident lawyer in your area to truly represent you and your family. Starting any kind of legal proceedings can feel incredibly overwhelming when you’re still grieving and having to re-live or speak about an accident that’s resulted in such loss can be traumatic which is why our team approaches things at your own pace.
It’s no surprise that you and your loved ones will have a lot of questions about what to do now, or how to move forward, so we’ve shared some of the most common questions our attorneys get asked as well as some previous cases we’ve successfully won for clients filing wrongful death cases.
The top injury attorneys at Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm near you have more than 15 years of experience in helping clients who have lost family in a fatal auto accident. Our offices are conveniently located in nearby Chandler, Peoria, and North Phoenix, and we can meet in-person or over the phone or video call. You can contact us for a free consultation, or read on to find out more.
Arizona Fatal Auto Accident Laws
When you lose a child, spouse, or parent in a fatal auto accident, the laws surrounding this tragedy are the wrongful death laws. The claim filed will be against the at-fault driver is a wrongful death action on behalf of the deceased who would have been able to sue for personal injury themselves, if they’d survived.
The state of Arizona permits bereaved family members to make a claim on behalf of a loved one, called a ‘wrongful death’ case. The “wrongful death” law entitles the loved ones of those taken from us, due to neglect or lack of care or deliberate actions of another, to some financial compensation for their loss.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The law permits certain family members of the deceased to file the case:
- Parents (biological or adopted)
- Children (biological or adopted)
- A personal representative (of the estate or a child under 18)
For children under 18 who have lost a parent, their legal guardian may file the suit on the child’s behalf, however, legally adopted children cannot bring a wrongful death suit on behalf of their biological parents. Unfortunately, siblings, cousins, grandparents, common-law spouses, and other family members can’t file a wrongful death claim.
We’ve previously written a guide to settlements after a fatal crash that covers information about filing a claim and representing your loved ones.
How to Start a Wrongful Death Claim
The first step is to get in touch with a highly-rated fatal auto accident attorney and arrange a consultation to tell them your case. Once your attorney agrees to take your case on, your claim with be filed and will be brought to a civil court whilst the criminal court will deal with the individual who caused the fatal auto accident. The civil suit alleges harm to you and/or your property and is a private action brought by you as an individual against another person or entity (government, corporation, etc.).
A criminal action, on the other hand, is brought by the state against that same person or entity. The person whose actions robbed you of your loved one is prosecuted criminally, whether you prosecute them civilly or not.
Types of Damages Claimed for in a Wrongful Death case
The damages in a wrongful death claim are based on the individual injuries you and your loved ones suffered as a result of the death. The two main types of damages are;
Medical and Funeral Expenses
Medical and funeral expenses of the deceased are recoverable by a surviving family member if they had already paid for these expenses or was liable to pay for them.
Past and Future Economic Support
Economic support and services include everything your deceased loved one contributed to you, his or her parents, and his or her children. This includes past and future damages dating from the time of the accident. A court will measure the loss of economic support you would have received, not actual future earnings.
You and your family may also be entitled to recover for any inheritance property that your deceased loved one probably would have inherited had they not died.
Previous Fatal Auto Accident Case Results For Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm
Our team near you has gained valuable experience working on fatal auto accident cases that have been successfully resolved on behalf of our clients;
- $800,000 following the death of a 76-year old grandfather, father, and husband in an auto-accident in Mesa, AZ. The negligent driver had taken medication before driving and was charged with negligent homicide.
- $215,000 following the death of a wife and mother who was killed in a car accident in Chandler by a driver on prescription medication.
When Should I File a Wrongful Death Suit?
A suit must be filed within two years from the date of death; however, there are special circumstances that will require the suit to be filed as soon as 180 days from the date of death. Your attorney will need to prove that the defendants are responsible for the death, and those left behind have been harmed as a result of the death.
What happens if there isn’t anyone to represent the ‘estate’?
If an individual isn’t survived by a parent, child, or spouse, the ‘estate’ can be represented by someone else who has been chosen by the deceased in a will, trust documents, or even by the probate court if no will exists.
What happens if the driver who died was uninsured or underinsured?
Sadly, you can’t recover financially from uninsured or underinsured motorists unless you personally also get benefits from the same policy. The estate may bring a claim against the insurance agency for whatever benefits would have accrued to your lost loved one.
Will I pay tax on a wrongful death settlement?
Any kind of ‘awards’ from a wrongful death suit isn’t considered taxable income, however, punitive damages are a taxable exception, as punitive damages exist in theory to punish the wrongdoer rather than reward you and your loved ones.
We understand that a court case will be the last thing on your mind, it’s important that you take steps to preserve your case so that you don’t add financial hardship to the emotional loss. Contacting an experienced attorney can mitigate that burden as you take the steps you need to settle the legal aspects of this tragedy.
How Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm can Help You
At Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm near you, we have more than 15 years of experience helping clients who have lost loved ones in a fatal auto accident. When you’re ready to talk, please contact our office to arrange a free initial consultation by phone or at our Chandler office, conveniently located in your area.
If you need medical treatment after a car accident contact Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm near you in nearby Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. We provide personal injury legal services to clients in your area including Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Peoria.