When another’s negligent or intentional act causes the wrongful death of a loved one, the entire family needs the sound legal advice, dedicated representation and caring support of a thoroughly knowledgeable and experienced lawyer.
We stand up for individuals and families coping with the wrongful death of a loved one in southern Arizona. We apply our in-depth understanding of the insurance industry and proven litigation skills to help our clients obtain the full and fair compensation to which they are entitled under the law.
Surviving family members may be entitled to payment for their economic losses, such as loss of income or support, and also for their personal losses, such as loss of love and affection, and loss of companionship. They may also be entitled to payment for their pain and grief. These losses may require very substantial payments by the responsible parties. It takes an experienced wrongful death attorney to determine the proper compensation for your losses, and to obtain the maximum payment for you.
Wrongful death cases are difficult—legally and emotionally. The team at Bache & Lynch will make the effort to get to know you and your family so that we can better guide you and advocate for your interests.
We Take the Time to Get to Know the Deceased
Through letters, photographs, family stories and home video, we strive to understand the person who was lost so that we can be an effective voice for them in settlement negotiations or in court.
We have a proven record of success in obtaining substantial financial recoveries in wrongful death cases. We know that a settlement is often the best, least stressful option for our clients. At Bache & Lynch, we understand insurance companies – we used to work for them. We work hard to convince the insurance companies to deal fairly. If they choose not to, we are very willing to take on the insurance industry and major corporations to get you the financial compensation you need to build a brighter future for yourself and your family.
To discuss your rights and legal options in filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, please call our Tucson law firm at 520-293-5300. You may also contact us using the Contact Form above for more information or to schedule a free consultation.
Detailed Information: Arizona Wrongful Death Law
Who Can Bring A Lawsuit?
In Arizona, a claim for compensation due to a wrongful death can be brought on behalf of the surviving spouse, adult or minor children, and parents of the decedent (person who died). A lawsuit can be filed by any of those individuals, or by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. The decedent’s estate may also have a separate claim for damages.
Only the specific family members listed in the statute (“beneficiaries”) may bring a wrongful death action. Brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncles and aunts, fiancés, or live-in boyfriends or girlfriends cannot bring a wrongful death lawsuit or recover damages for the death of their loved one, no matter how close their relationship to the deceased or how much they have been damaged. Only one action for wrongful death may be brought for the death of a person, and that action will be on behalf of all beneficiaries.
What Types of Damages and Liability May Be Compensated?
A surviving beneficiary is entitled to sue for wrongful death only if a cause of action for personal injury against the defendant (wrongdoer) would have existed if the victim had not died. A defendant in a wrongful death action is liable to the same extent he would have been liable if the victim had been injured rather than died. Thus, liability is established in essentially the same way as in a personal injury case.
If there is liability, a jury may award an amount to compensate each of the decedent’s beneficiaries for the following:
The loss of love, affection, companionship, care, protection, and guidance since the death of the decedent, and in the future.
The pain, grief, sorrow, anguish, stress, shock, and mental suffering already experienced, and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future.
The income and services that have already been lost as a result of the death, and that are reasonably probable to be lost in the future.
The reasonable expenses of funeral and burial.
The reasonable expenses of necessary medical care and services for the injuries that resulted in the death.
Causes of Wrongful Death
While wrongful death cases often result from motor vehicle accidents, many other activities resulting in death that could give rise to a wrongful death case against a person or entity. If a motor vehicle collision causing death occurs due to the intoxication of one of the drivers, a wrongful death action may be brought against the intoxicated driver. However, other entities may also bear responsibility for such a death. For example, if a bar or restaurant serves an individual alcohol when they know or should know that the person is intoxicated, that establishment may bear some responsibility for a death caused by their intoxicated patron.
Shopping malls, stores, nightclubs, pizza parlors, concert venues and sports arenas have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of people invited to their property. For example, if a mall has reason to know of gang activity at the mall and fails to provide reasonable security to prevent violence, the shopping mall may be liable for a death that occurs due to that violence. Another example of an entity that may bear responsibility for a death, is a governmental entity (city, county, state) for negligent road maintenance or design. All persons and entities that are at all responsible for a death should be held accountable for their actions.
Recovery Under Insurance Policies
If a person or entity is found liable for the wrongful death of another and damages are assessed, the beneficiaries may enforce their judgement against the assets and income of the party found liable. However, for many reasons, insurance coverage may be the only practicable source for recovery. Again, since most wrongful death actions arise out of motor vehicle accidents, the auto policy of a negligent driver is often the first source that is looked to for compensation.
In Arizona, all vehicles must be insured by liability insurance in a sum not less than $15,000 per person, and $30,000 per occurrence. In addition, insurance companies are required to offer their insureds uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage up to the amount of the liability insurance. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage provides coverage in the event that the third party who caused the motor vehicle accident either has no insurance or has inadequate insurance to pay for the damages that he has caused. (For more information see Auto Insurance)
Homeowners insurance sometimes provides liability coverage for members of the household who injure or kill people. Homeowners liability insurance often covers the actions of their insured regardless of whether the acts take place in the home or off of the property. (Homeowners policies generally exclude coverage for deaths or injuries arising out of the use of a motor vehicle. However, these are often covered by automobile insurance.)
However, if an adult intentionally kills another person, homeowners insurance will generally not cover this act, since most homeowners’ insurance policies contain an ‘intentional act exclusion’ for adults. Under the intentional act exclusion, insurance coverage will not cover harm caused by an insured if the insured acted with a specific intent to injure the victim.
These are some of the potential sources of recovery for the wrongful death of a loved one. There are many more; please call us if you are faced with such a loss.
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If you’ve lost a loved one due to an accident that you can prove was caused by another party, you are within your rights to file a wrongful death case. But before you file a wrongful death lawsuit in Arizona, you should know the most common questions asked. Here are the answers to the most common questions about Arizona wrongful death claims.