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Having a loved one stripped from your life can be one of the most painful experiences a person can endure. Unfortunately, wrongful death claims are incredibly complicated and potentially time-consuming depending on a variety of factors. It is important to note that how the claim is handled and the methods of monetary recovery vary depending on what caused a person’s death. Additionally, it is important to note that only certain people have a claim for the loss of a loved one. Pursuant to Arizona law, only a surviving spouse, parent or guardian, or personal representative of the estate of the deceased may pursue a claim for wrongful death. Questions will undoubtedly be left unanswered, including who is entitled to make a claim or what happens to any medical bills or debt related to the incident. These are questions a family should not have to worry about in the wake of a tragedy. It is important to contact an attorney with the knowledge and experience to advise and guide on these topics. Members of Goodnow|McKay are experienced with these claims and are here to help. We are committed to helping our clients recover fair compensation. We are often able to negotiate reasonable settlements with the responsible insurance companies, but we are willing to fight for our clients through trial if necessary.
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Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Generally, there are two types of claims related to a wrongful death: the wrongful death claim itself and a survival action. They are related but uniquely different.
Wrongful Death: this is a claim for damages suffered by surviving family members or beneficiaries as a result of the death of a loved one.
Survival Action: this is a claim that allows an action by a representative of the estate on behalf of the deceased person for injuries.
Both actions arise because of the death of a victim of negligence but differ in terms of methods of recovery and how they are conducted. Wrongful death statutes usually allow damages for the losses suffered by surviving relatives—including loss of economic support. The survival action allows the estate of a decedent to enforce a claim for the injuries and damages suffered by the decedent before death. In essence, the survival action allows a person to represent the decedent for the injuries suffered as the decedent would have been able to had they survived.
Comparing Types of Wrongful Death Legal Claims
Wrongful death claims are centered on compensating survivors who were close to the decedent for the losses they suffered as a result of the death. The people who can be compensated, often called beneficiaries, vary from state to state, but, generally, are outlined in the state’s wrongful death statute. The losses themselves may include loss of financial support or include loss of companionship or sexual consortium.
Survival actions focus on the damages, medical expenses, disability, and medical expenses, suffered by a decedent before death. A representative of the estate of the decedent essentially takes the place of the wrongful death victim and makes a claim on their behalf. Note that depending on the state and the appropriate law pain and suffering may not be compensated under this type of claim. The other potential issue is that the estate itself may be liable for medical debt, costs, or expenses and any recovery may have to be distributed to third parties to pay for outstanding debts. These restrictions do not apply to wrongful death claims.