Is Wrongful Death a Tort?
Wrongful death statutes were first created many years ago to ensure widows and orphans would be financially taken care of in the event that the provider of their household was killed. In the past, these laws were meant to improve work conditions and ensure employers would care for the safety of their employees. Today, these statutes allow surviving family members and heirs to seek financial compensation when their loved one was killed as a result of negligence.
If you or someone you love has suffered the tragic loss of a loved one due to someone’s action or inaction, the compassionate lawyers at Phillips Law Group are here to help. We can offer legal guidance and support during this difficult time.
During your initial consultation, a member of our legal team will sit down with you to review your situation and determine whether you might be eligible to receive financial compensation. Call us 24/7 at 1-800-706-3000 or complete the free case evaluation form.
What is Wrongful Death?
“Wrongful death” occurs when someone’s life is taken due to another’s intentional actions or negligence. A wrongful death claim allows the victim’s surviving family members to pursue compensation for funeral costs, lost wages from the deceased, and other financial losses they have suffered due to their loved one’s death.
Types of wrongful death accidents include:
- Motor vehicle accidents: A driver may have been intoxicated, texting, speeding, or engaging in other reckless behavior that caused a fatal car accident
- Medical malpractice: Misdiagnosis, prescription errors, and failure to diagnose are a few of the medical errors that can result in a patient’s death
- Slip-and-fall accidents: Failure to perform needed maintenance on a building or properly care for a patient in a nursing home are some of the causes of slip-and-fall wrongful death lawsuits
- Workplace accidents: Some employers try to save time and money by failing to train their employees or provide needed safety equipment resulting in tragic accidents
What Does Tort Mean?
A “tort” is an act that harms another person and infringes on his or her legal rights. A “tort claim” is a lawsuit filed to pursue compensation for injuries suffered in an accident caused by someone else’s actions.
There are four basic elements in every tort claim:
- Duty of care: Proof that the defendant owed you a duty of care, or an obligation, to act in a way that would not cause harm to you or others
- Breach of duty: Evidence that the defendant failed to take reasonable care to prevent an accident
- Causation: Evidence that the breach of duty caused you harm
- Damages: Proof that your injuries resulted in damages
Is Wrongful Death a Tort or a Criminal Case?
A wrongful death claim is a civil case and falls under the area of tort law. Torts can be either intentional or unintentional, but most wrongful death claims are unintentional torts. An intentional tort involves someone’s deliberate action that caused harm.
If someone intentionally harmed another person, this type of wrongful death claim could be both a criminal and tort case. In these situations, the wrongful death lawsuit will usually be filed after the criminal case.
In the case of a car accident caused by a drunk driver, a wrongful death case could be both tort and criminal. The police will probably pursue a criminal investigation, while the victim’s family can pursue a claim to get compensation.
For example, one of the most well-known criminal and civil trials is that of the ex-football star O.J. Simpson. He was found not guilty in the criminal trial because the jury could not find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in the tort case filed by the two victims’ families, he was found guilty and ordered to pay wrongful death damages.
Types of Damages Awarded in Wrongful Death Cases
The loss of a loved one is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can go through in life. The grief can be even more profound if the accident could have been avoided.
The compassionate attorneys at our law firm understand that there is no amount of money that can compensate for the death of your loved one. However, compensation can ease the financial burden your family may be experiencing during this difficult time.
Generally, there are two types of damages that are available to surviving family members in a wrongful death tort case: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages awarded in a wrongful death case may include:
- Medical expenses to treat the victim before their death
- Lost wages the victim would have been able to earn in the future
- Funeral, cremation, and burial expenses
- Reduction of inheritance due to the untimely death
- Loss of goods and services the deceased would have provided
In addition to monetary losses, the following non-economic damages may be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish
- Loss of guidance, care, training, and advice
- Loss of love, society, and companionship
- Loss of consortium
In some situations, punitive damages may be awarded in wrongful death cases. These types of damages are awarded by a judge to punish a defendant for extreme misconduct and to deter others from acting in the same way.
Who Can Recover Compensation From a Wrongful Death Tort Case?
A wrongful death claim can be filed if the deceased person could have pursued a personal injury lawsuit based on the negligent actions that caused his or her death. In Arizona, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is 2 years. This means that the survivors have 2 years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim.
Each state has its own laws that dictate who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Only the following parties are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Arizona’s civil courts:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased
- The surviving children of the deceased
- The surviving parent or guardian of the deceased
- The representative of the deceased person’s estate
If the deceased person is a child, Arizona law allows the parents or guardians of the child to file a wrongful death claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Our law firm primarily focuses on personal injury or tort cases. A wrongful death lawsuit is a tort case. If your loved one has died in an accident caused by the negligence or misconduct of an individual or company, you may be entitled to bring legal action for wrongful death against all responsible parties.
At Phillips Law Group, our legal team understands that the sudden death of a family member may mean the loss of financial support as well, so we represent wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing out of pocket. Our wrongful death attorneys only get paid if we are able to win you a favorable settlement or jury award.
The unexpected loss of a loved one is a tragedy no one should have to go through alone. The compassionate attorneys at our law firm are here to be of assistance to you and your family during the challenging days and weeks ahead. Call us at 1-800-706-3000, start a live chat with a representative, or submit the online free evaluation form.
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