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What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?

April 19, 2024 Legal Team

For those dealing with the aftermath of a loved one’s untimely passing resulting from another’s negligence, understanding the legal recourse available is both critical and overwhelming. Wrongful death claims offer a legal mechanism for surviving family members to seek justice and receive compensation for their irreplaceable loss. 

Our compassionate team is dedicated to providing the support and guidance needed to ensure that justice is pursued for your family during this incredibly difficult time. For help, contact a Phoenix wrongful death attorney at Hastings & Hastings to schedule a free consultation.

What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim

What is Wrongful Death in Arizona?

An initial grasp of wrongful death claims under Arizona law is foundational. This legal recourse allows certain family members and dependents of the deceased to claim damages when the death of their loved one is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another. 

When death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action to recover damages in respect thereof, then, and in every such case, the person who or the corporation which would have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death was caused under such circumstances as amount in law to murder in the first or second degree or manslaughter.

The purpose is not to replace the lost life, but to address the financial and emotional impact upon the survivors.

Types of Damages Available in Arizona Wrongful Death Claims

In Arizona, you may be eligible to receive several different types of compensation in a wrongful death claim. These can be broadly categorized into economic, non-economic, and in certain egregious cases, punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages address the tangible financial burdens that result from the death of the victim. They may include:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Funeral and Burial Expenses
  • Loss of Expected Earnings
  • Loss of Health Benefits
  • Loss of Pension

This is not an exhaustive list, but provides a general overview of what you may be able to claim. Each of these components must be meticulously documented and demonstrated in a wrongful death claim.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages represent the more intangible costs, such as the emotional toll on surviving family members. These include:

  • Pain and Suffering: The physical or emotional pain experienced by the deceased’s beneficiaries may be considered in the calculation of damages.
  • Loss of Consortium: This refers to the loss a spouse experiences – the comfort, care, and companionship they enjoyed with their partner, as well as the loss of the marital relationship.
  • Mental Anguish: This encompasses the psychological distress suffered by surviving family members as a result of the wrongful death.

Quantifying non-economic damages is inherently subjective, but should always be considered.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages seek to punish the offender and deter similar future negligent acts. Although Arizona Revised Statute 12-613 doesn’t explicitly mention punitive damages in wrongful death cases, Arizona courts interpret the statute to allow such awards if the jury finds them appropriate. 

Jurors are given wide latitude to determine damages that are “fair and just,” including considering any mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

In an action for wrongful death, the jury shall give such damages as it deems fair and just with reference to the injury resulting from the death to the surviving parties who may be entitled to recover, and also having regard to the mitigating or aggravating circumstances attending the wrongful act, neglect or default. The amount recovered in such action shall not be subject to debts or liabilities of the deceased, unless the action is brought on behalf of the decedent’s estate.

Punitive damages can serve as a significant deterrent against the behavior that led to the wrongful death, making them an important tool in the pursuit of justice.

Understanding the types of damages available in wrongful death claims equips survivors with the ability to pursue a comprehensive claim, securing a measure of financial relief and justice that can support their healing process. For help, contact Hastings & Hastings today to schedule a free consultation.