The unexpected death of a family member is a tragedy. Surviving family members are likely overwhelmed with grief, but they could have tangible fears about the future. After all, the death of a spouse can send any family’s finances into a nosedive.

At CLS Law, our Scottsdale wrongful death lawyer extends his sympathies to anyone struggling in the aftermath of an untimely death. You probably have many questions about what happened, as well as about what comes next. Let us begin to piece together some of the answers for you.

In a free consultation, we can discuss the tragic death and provide an overview of Arizona wrongful death law. Our state gives certain family members the right to seek financial compensation for the death of a loved one—but only in certain circumstances. Call us to schedule a private consultation with our firm.

When Can You Sue for Wrongful Death?

Arizona Revised Statutes § 12-611 creates wrongful death liability for deaths caused by someone’s neglect, wrongful act, or default. This is a broad definition, but it includes:

  • Negligence-based deaths, including motor vehicle accidents and premises liability claims
  • Medical malpractice deaths
  • Deaths due to defective products
  • Intentional acts, like manslaughter or homicide

Some accidents are merely that—accidents—and no one is legally to blame. But in other cases, an individual or business has “fault” for the death. They are legally responsible, and you can sue them for compensation.

Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona had 1,178 fatal accidents in 2022, resulting in 1,294 deaths. The peak month for fatal accidents was October, with Saturday being the most common day.

Of these fatal accidents, 202 were alcohol related. Either motorist had consumed alcohol, so it was a contributory factor in the death.

Other accidents are caused by:

  • Distraction, including texting while driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Aggressive actions, like tailgating or driving on the sidewalk
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Neglecting to use turn signals or mirrors
  • Illegally changing lanes or making a U-turn

Any failure to use reasonable care can make a motorist liable for the accident—and the death which results.

Defective Products

Dangerous products flood onto the marketplace each year, and unsuspecting consumers end up gravely injured when the product explodes or otherwise fails to work properly. A person might die due to:

  • Bicycles and motorcycles which malfunction;
  • Appliances which electrocute the user;
  • Batteries which cause a product to catch on fire;
  • Furniture which tips over and lands on a small child;
  • Products which a child can ingest, choking them.

Other products are designed properly but have been contaminated in the manufacturing process. Still other products come with inadequate warnings or instructions. For example, the instructions on a car seat might be so confusing that parents install the seat wrong—only for the seat to fail in an accident, killing their child.

Crimes of Violence

An intentional, criminal act is also “wrongful” under Arizona’s law. You can sue the perpetrator for attacking your loved one.

This civil action is independent of any criminal case. The prosecutor will handle criminal charges. Family members will need to manage their own wrongful death case for financial compensation.

We might also sue a business for negligent security which contributed to the death. As an example: a loved one could have been stabbed and robbed in a parking lot. Despite the high crime in the area, the property owner didn’t install parking lot lights or fences. In this case, the lot’s owner could have been negligent in providing adequate security.

Filing a Scottsdale Wrongful Death Case

Arizona gives the following people the right to file this claim:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Surviving children
  • Surviving parents or legal guardians
  • The estate’s personal representative

The prosecutor will not file a wrongful death case for you, which is civil, even if your loved one died in a violent attack. Call our firm so we can move quickly to protect your rights.

Arizona Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims

Despite your grief, families must file a timely wrongful death lawsuit. The deadline is two years from the day your loved one passed. This is a hard deadline, and there are consequences for going over the deadline.

In particular, the defendant can request dismissal of your lawsuit because it is untimely. Judges will agree, which can result in a total loss of compensation. Reach out to CLS Law immediately. We can file a lawsuit in court before the deadline.

Financial Compensation & Scottsdale Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death claims seek to financially compensate family members for their losses when a beloved relative dies. On the one hand, we realize money is entirely inadequate. No amount of money can replace a spouse, child, or parent.

On the other hand, money can certainly ease some of the distress survivors feel. Imagine if your husband was killed when he provided most of the income for your family. It is perfectly normal to worry about your financial future, even while grieving the loss of your relationship.

A wrongful death claim can seek compensation for:

  • Income and benefits your loved one would have earned had they not died;
  • The loss of companionship, care, guidance, protection;
  • Loss of services provided by the deceased;
  • Your pain and suffering which results from the loss.

Any compensation is limited by certain facts, one of which is the deceased’s contributory negligence. For example, your loved one might have died in a car accident when a drunk driver crossed the center line. However, your loved one was texting and driving at the same time, so they weren’t paying attention.

In Arizona, each side’s negligence is compared to the other. If your loved one was 50% at fault for the fatal accident, then your compensation is cut in half.

What About Survival Actions?

These are related to wrongful death cases. In a wrongful death claim, surviving family members seek compensation for their own losses. With a survival action, the estate seeks compensation for the losses your loved one endured before death.

Not everyone dies immediately. Your spouse might have suffered grievous injuries in a car accident but nonetheless hung on for a week in the hospital before finally succumbing. A survival action seeks compensation for:

  • Medical care to treat your loved one after the accident/attack;
  • Expenses for burial;
  • Funeral expenses;
  • Any other financial losses flowing from the fatal incident.

At CLS Law, we will file a survival action where appropriate. The money goes to the estate to pay bills.

Why We Are the Law Firm for You

Scottsdale residents have many options for choosing a lawyer, but we recommend picking up a phone and calling us:

  • We do not run a personal injury mill. As a small firm, we are selective about the cases we accept and will only take a case if we think it has merit.
  • Our legal team treats our clients like family. We care about your future, which drives us to obtain the most compensation for you and your loved ones.
  • We stay on top of technological and legal changes, harnessing them on behalf of our clients.

Our founder, Christopher L. Sullivan, is a rising lawyer in Arizona Injury Law. He has taken on some of the largest corporations and insurance companies in the state. He knows how to pull together a strong wrongful death claim.

Call Us to Learn More

CLS Law is ready to tackle your wrongful death case with dedication and expertise. We understand the profound impact losing a loved one can have on your life, and we are committed to helping you navigate this challenging time. Our compassionate attorneys will provide personalized attention and strong legal representation to ensure your family’s rights are protected and justice is served. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced wrongful death attorney, please call us at (855) 257-9467. Let us support you in your pursuit of justice and help secure the compensation your family deserves.