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Personal Injury Areas of Practice: Wrongful Deaths

April 4, 2016 Hastings and Hastings

Here at Hastings &Hastings, we have been practicing personal injury law in Arizona for over 35 years. Our highly qualified legal team has extensive experience handling complex and often overwhelming personal injury cases. We like to offer out experience and expertise to the people of Arizona.

We are often asked, “What is personal injury law? Does my situation fall under the realm of personal injury law?” What are your areas of practice?”

Personal injury claims are cases in which one party has suffered harm or hardship as a result of another person’s actions or negligence. Often, this happens in the form of an accident. Today, we will begin a four-part series on a few of the types of cases in which we often represent clients. We will begin with wrongful deaths.

What is a Wrongful Death Case?

A wrongful death case is brought against a defendant who is believed to have caused, through negligence or intention, the death of another individual.Now, a clear question probably arises when you read this question. If the defendant caused the death of an individual, who files the wrongful death case? The lawsuit is filed on behalf of the estate of the deceased individual. This is typically done by the representative of the estate.

How do we Prove Fault in a Wrongful Death Case?

Typically, a plaintiff will attempt to establish fault in a wrongful death case by proving duty, breach of duty, and causation and damages.

In proving duty, we establish that the defendant had a duty of “due care” to keep the deceased safe. Establishing this varies from case to case.

In proving breach of duty, we establish that the defendant breached their duty to keep the deceased safe. For exampling, in a car accident, it would be the “duty” of the defendant to keep their eyes on the road and to drive safely. If they failed to do this, they would have breached their duty.

Finally, in proving causation and damages, we must establish that the breach of duty directly caused the death. If duty, breach of duty, and causation have all been established, damages are typically implied. Now we must establish what those damages are.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

Damages are “categories of loss” for which the estate of the deceased individual may receive compensation. Damages may include funeral and burial costs, loss of love/companionship, loss of care/guidance, loss of services, loss of income, loss of inheritance, and finally, medical costs.

All of the incurred damages factor into the value of the wrongful death lawsuit.