When someone dies, the emotional and personal impact of their passing can touch many people. In Arizona, the number of people who can bring a wrongful death claim in the event of neglect or misconduct is relatively small.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought by survivors of the deceased in order to seek financial compensation as a result of the neglect or misconduct that lead to the death.
A wrongful death claim can be filed if the deceased would have been able to file a personal injury claim, should they have survived the incident. Such a claim can provide compensation for the survivors in order to cover:
- Economic loss
- Pain, grief and suffering
- Medical, funeral and burial expenses
- Punitive damages, if necessary
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is generally two years, though are specific circumstances in which the statute of limitations may be shorter or longer.
Who Can File the Wrongful Death Suit?
In Arizona, only a few survivors of the deceased can actually file the wrongful death claim. This includes:
- Surviving wife or husband
- Surviving children
- Surviving parent or guardian
- Personal representative
The personal representative may act on behalf of the spouse, child or parent, or if none of these survive, on behalf of the deceased’s estate. These definitions are included in Arizona Revised Statute 12-612. There is some misinformation that suggests that siblings or other family members can file wrongful death claims. This is not true, unless the sibling or family member is the personal representative, and in this case they are acting on behalf of another party.
Though there are multiple individuals who can file a claim, there may only be one claim brought against the wrongdoer. If there are multiple people involved in the claim, they must work together to file one claim. The financial compensation of the claim, if it finalized, will be distributed among the claimants accordingly.
Who Cannot File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Any family member or individual not listed above cannot file a wrongful death claim to receive compensation for damages. Although this is usually a clear legal area, this means that the following survivors can’t file a claim:
- Life partners or common law spouses
- Same-sex partners or spouses
- Siblings or other family members
These are a reflection of Arizona’s current laws. Same-sex marriages and common law marriages cannot originate in Arizona, and therefore, spouses in these arrangements cannot receive the right to file a wrongful death claim.
Get Help with a Wrongful Death Claim
If you are the spouse, child or parent of someone who died because of another’s neglect or misconduct, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your loss.
Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.