Wrongful death claims are the most severe of personal injury negligence cases. Wrongful death occurs when an individual dies due to the negligence or failure to perform a reasonable duty of care for another party. The defendant can be a company as well as an individual, including filing a wrongful death claim due to a defective product. This is particularly common in vehicle accidents that occur for no apparent reason, only to find out later that a part or assembly did not function properly. Most automotive recalls begin as a rash of wrongful death lawsuits claiming the same malfunction. As the information is released, the number of suits generally increases as the company becomes aware of their legal problems.
Wrongful death cases also often stem from work accidents. Worker’s compensation laws will always be a partial determinant of how a wrongful death work injury is handled, but cases involving gross negligence or illegal actions by an employer can also enhance the legal standing of the victim and their family. Wrongful death standing belongs solely to the estate of the decedent, and the estate executor can file a claim separate from any claim for loss of consortium and support claimed by the decedent’s heirs. Punitive damages for gross negligence can only be allowed by a jury, but an experienced personal injury attorney who has handled wrongful death cases previously will understand how to leverage this possibility to secure a maximum settlement for their client.
It is also important to understand that loss of consortium is a claim filed by the decedent’s family for their loss. The spouse of a wrongful death victim can file for loss of consortium involving their marriage, and the children can file over the loss of support until their 18th birthday. Recoverable damages include non-economic pain and suffering, along with both the emotional and financial support losses. Awards paid for loss of consortium are personal losses and not included in the decedent estate settlement. Punitive damages are normally not recoverable in a standard wrongful death claim with no extenuating legal circumstances.
Punitive damages are not normally covered by any insurance plan and are intended to punish the defendant for gross negligence. Punitive damages are the awards that all respondents want to avoid. Anyone in Arizona who has suffered through the loss of an immediate family member who may have wrongful death legal standing should contact our office for an evaluation of your case and the potential for winning a wrongful death decision. At Carlos Brown Law, we have the experience needed as professional legal counsel to represent these serious lawsuits. Contact us today.