Understandably, after the death of a loved one, you may want to put the tragedy behind you as quickly as possible. Hiring a wrongful death lawyer can seem at odds with that wish. However, following an unexpected death, you may find that not only is the person gone, but in their place is a number of unforeseen expenses, lost income, and even medical bills. Rather than putting the affair behind you, neglecting to hire an attorney could instead drag out the process even more, saddling you with financial stress on top of your grief.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?
As with personal injury cases, a wrongful death suit must prove that negligence led to the death. This means demonstrating that someone’s action or inaction resulted in a loss of life that would not have otherwise happened. While the definition is simple, there are many possible scenarios in which a wrongful death could have taken place, including:
- Auto accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Surgical errors
- Medication errors
- Product defects
While these situations differ, the common thread is a human error that led to the death of someone who would have lived if it weren’t for that error. Accidents do happen. Some of them are no one’s fault. But if a drunk driver caused a fatal accident, a doctor made a mortal error during a surgery, a product with a design flaw cost a life, or a poorly maintained premises led to a deadly brain injury, the negligent party can and should be held accountable.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
In Arizona, immediate family members of the deceased can file a wrongful death suit to pursue compensation for the loss. Immediate family includes parents, spouses, and children. Any of these family members can contact a wrongful death attorney at Glendale’s Perez Law Group, PLLC to act as their representative in the lawsuit.
Unfortunately, that immediate family definition excludes grandparents, siblings, unmarried partners, and common-law spouses from filing on behalf of a lost loved one. If the deceased only had these connections, rather than immediate family, filing a wrongful death suit can be more challenging.
Fortunately, the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim, allowing normally excluded family members or loved ones to file through the estate. This will require appointing that excluded person as the estate’s personal representative. A wrongful death lawyer can help you understand how this process works and make sure you see justice for your loss even if you aren’t immediate family.
What Can a Wrongful Death Claim Do?
Also similar to most personal injury claims, wrongful death lawsuits can accomplish more than merely covering medical bills or specific expenses. In the eyes of the law, any time someone’s carelessness leads to injury or death, it represents an imbalance. Forcing the responsible party to pay bills or funeral expenses doesn’t necessarily correct that imbalance because it doesn’t equal the loss you’ve experienced. A wrongful death claim attempts to legally compensate you for as many aspects of your loss as possible. This could include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills or costs from the time leading up to the death
- Future income lost as a result of the death
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of care and guidance for children
- Loss of companionship
- Punitive damages
Wrongful death suits don’t just look at what this situation cost you in the past and what you’re dealing with in the present, but they also look to the future at how your loss will impact your life from now on. In the immediate aftermath of a death, your initial focus will naturally gravitate toward what you had with that person, as well as the burden of what the death means in the moment. However, once the first shock has worn off, you’ll realize that individual also represented additional income, parenting for you or your children, and life partnership or support. Your legal claim takes all of those aspects into account. And don’t worry about considering them all when you file; your attorney knows what you’ve lost even if it hasn’t sunk in for you yet.
In addition to these considerations, a wrongful death claim could also result in punitive damages. This is compensation awarded to you in order to punish the responsible party. A court sometimes awards punitive damages to highlight the severity of the negligence by the at-fault individual or entity. In these cases, you receive both economic compensation to mitigate what you’ve lost and additional funds as a form of justice to hammer home the liable party’s oversight.
Punitive damages are only awarded in particularly glaring cases of negligence, such as when someone was driving or performing a medical operation under the influence. These are deaths caused by more than just a minor error or momentary lapse in judgement, and therefore deserve stiffer consequences. A personal injury lawyer can let you know if punitive damages are possible in your case.
Should We Settle?
Hollywood likes a good courtroom drama, but many personal injury and wrongful death cases don’t ever go to court. Instead, they settle. Ideally, you will receive compensation without needing to deal with the stress of a trial. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean a “successful” wrongful death suit doesn’t go to court and an “unsuccessful” one does, or vice versa. Whether to accept a settlement or pursue a court case depends on your specific circumstances.
The wrongful death attorneys at Glendale’s Perez Law Group, PLLC will evaluate your case at the beginning to know what it is worth. We can determine what is an appropriate level of damages to accept, taking into consideration your bills, expenses, future losses in income, and emotional and psychological distress. We will have this in mind when a settlement is offered, allowing our wrongful death lawyers to determine if an offer is worth taking.
Multiple offers and counteroffers may be exchanged to refine the terms. Our wrongful death lawyers will only pass on a settlement if it’s deemed less than you deserve. We will go as far as is necessary to ensure you receive everything possible to compensate for your loss.
What Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Do for You
Perez Law Group, PLLC helps carry your burden. We will research your case, conduct interviews, gather evidence and witnesses, consult experts, check medical records, negotiate settlement offers, and go all the way to court if need be. Grieving is hard enough to shoulder without the additional stress of filling out legal paperwork and chasing down negligent parties attempting to wriggle away from responsibility.
In addition to doing the heavy lifting to make the process easier, we will obtain more compensation for your case. Just look at our results: $2.7 million in damages for wrongful death clients and $11.4 million total recovered in personal injury overall. In other words, we get the job done.