When you lose a loved one in an accident or due to medical malpractice, you’re faced first with the terrible pain of losing someone you loved. You are also faced with the emotional and financial crisis that accompanies a wrongful death. How will you pay for final expenses? Will you be able to make up for lost income if you’ve lost a spouse? Who will pay any remaining medical bills?
At Cullan & Cullan, we believe you shouldn’t have to worry about issues like these. Your main concern should be focusing on the healing process, surrounded by family. We’re committed to providing you the tools to do just that. Our Phoenix wrongful death lawyers can handle every aspect of your case, seeking justice on your loved one’s behalf.
Call our offices at (602) 900-9483 today for a free and confidential review of your case.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
Surviving members of an accident victim’s family may file a wrongful death suit if they believe their loved one died as a direct result of negligence. Wrongful death settlements are intended to take care of funeral arrangements or other final expenses, make up for the deceased’s lost wages, and compensate for intangible losses like loss of companionship.
You may file a wrongful death suit after any type of accident or negligence that has claimed the life of a family member. This may include: car accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, or even defective products. Anyone can be at fault in a wrongful death claim, from individuals to companies and even the government.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Qualified survivors may be eligible to collect different types of damages as part of a wrongful death claim, which are lumped into three general categories:
- Economic (special) damages. These are easy to calculate and may include financial contributions the deceased made to the family as well as funeral expenses and outstanding medical bills.
- Non-economic (general) damages. These damages cover intangible losses, like loss of companionship, mental anguish, loss of consortium, grief, and loss of protection.
- Punitive damages. These are meant to punish the guilty parties for grossly negligent behavior. For example, companies can be forced to pay punitive damages when they knowingly sold dangerous products or drugs that they knew were likely to cause serious injury or death. A trucking company might have to pay punitive damages if they knew their tractor needed repairs but left it out on the road. A hospital might be liable for punitive damages when they knew a doctor had a drug or alcohol problem and did not suspend their hospital privileges, a driver might have to pay punitive damages for drinking while driving.
A Phoenix wrongful death attorney can explain more about the potential value of your case and your specific options.
What to Expect During a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit is not the same as probate court or other legal actions you may go through after the unexpected passing of a loved one. It is a form of personal injury litigation with the purpose of holding a party responsible for the death.
Here are a few things you might expect from this type of case:
- Burden of proof. You and your family will bear the burden of proof. You must show that the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care, and that a breach of this duty is what caused the death. Elements of proof can change depending on the circumstances of the accident.
- Ongoing criminal trial. If the death stemmed from someone’s criminal act, such as intent to harm or kill your loved one, you may file your wrongful death lawsuit at the same time as a pending criminal trial. You can do both at the same time in Arizona. The criminal trial serves to convict the allegedly at-fault party for the crime that caused the death, while the civil trial serves to compensate surviving family members.
- Settlement vs. lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit may or may not go to trial. In most cases, an attorney will try to settle a wrongful death claim outside of the courtroom, during pre-trial motions. However, if the insurance company will not pay a fair amount for the lives their insured has destroyed then it may be necessary to go to trial. If your case does need to go to trial for resolution, you’ll want experienced trial attorneys by yours side.
Every wrongful death claim is different. The elements and components of your particular claim are difficult to predict without help from a lawyer. Working with our experienced attorneys can give you a better idea of exactly what to expect from your case, as well as how to prepare for pre-trial settlement negotiations and a trial, if applicable.
Your Wrongful Death Attorney in Phoenix, AZ
At Cullan & Cullan, we practice on the notion that no one should have to pay the price for someone else’s negligence. We dedicate our careers to helping families in Phoenix and across Arizona recover damages from wrongful death and personal injury claims. While nothing can erase the emotional distress and grief of losing a loved one, a wrongful death settlement can provide your loved ones with the economic security you need to try to get your life back on track. When we get calls from families who have lost a loved one due to a senseless tragedy they are in pain. One of the primary reasons they call us is that they want to do what they can to prevent a senseless tragedy from happening to another family. That is our law firm’s goal as well.
Your settlement begins with a free initial consultation. Let us review your case to see if we have the legal grounds for a wrongful death suit. Call (602) 900-9483 to schedule your case review.