It is impossible to put a price tag on someone’s life. Requiring the at-fault party to pay surviving family members for a tragic death, however, can bring some measure of closure and justice to loved ones. It is important to understand how much your wrongful death claim in Arizona is worth, as an insurance company may offer an inadequate amount. Calculating the value of your claim may take assistance from a wrongful death attorney in Glendale.
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The first step in understanding how much your wrongful death case is worth is creating a comprehensive list of all of your losses. In Arizona, a wrongful death lawsuit can result in financial compensation for both economic (tangible) and noneconomic (intangible) losses. It can also pay for existing losses as well as future or latent foreseeable losses, such as a future of lost earnings from the deceased person.
The financial compensation (damages) available during a wrongful death claim in Arizona include:
- Reasonable funeral and burial (or cremation) experiences
- Medical bills connected to the victim’s final ailment
- Wages the decedent would have made had he or she survived
- The repair of any property damaged in the accident
- The loss of the value of household services performed by the decedent
- Loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, care and parental guidance
- Loss of spousal consortium
- Emotional pain and mental anguish suffered by surviving family members
- Punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer (in some cases)
Any financial recovery obtained in a wrongful death claim in Arizona is distributed to the decedent’s surviving loved ones according to how the family decides amongst itself. If family members cannot agree on the distribution of funds, the court will decide how much money each survivor should receive. In general, eligible beneficiaries are the surviving spouse, children, and parents or guardians.
Average Wrongful Death Settlement in Arizona
It is important not to base the value of your wrongful death suit on an alleged “average” won in Arizona, as this amount does not exist. Every wrongful death lawsuit is unique, with settlement and judgment awards varying significantly from case to case. Some plaintiffs receive $10,000 or less in wrongful death settlements while others receive millions of dollars with a court verdict. The best way to determine the value of your particular wrongful death lawsuit is by consulting with an attorney.
Is There a Damage Cap in Arizona?
A damage cap limits the amount of financial compensation that a plaintiff can receive for a case. If a state has damage caps, they are usually imposed on medical malpractice cases or claims against the government as a way to protect hospitals and government agencies from going bankrupt. They can also be present against specific damages, such as punitive or noneconomic damages. Arizona’s state constitution prohibits the use of damage caps in personal injury and wrongful death cases, however.
Determining the Value of Your Lawsuit
A wrongful death claim may end in a settlement with an insurance company or a trial with a judge and jury. With a settlement, the insurance company and claimant negotiate the value of the agreement together. With a trial, the court decides how much money the family or estate should be awarded. A jury will make this decision based on what it hears during the trial, including proof of the family’s losses, whether the decedent had minor children, the spouse’s age and income, and many other factors.
In general, a jury verdict will result in more money than a wrongful death settlement. The trade-off, however, is the time and money spent on a trial, as well as the fact that there is no guarantee the plaintiff will win the case. Before you accept an insurance settlement for wrongful death in Arizona, contact an attorney to find out if you are being offered enough. An attorney can help you negotiate with an insurance company or bring your case to trial for maximum financial compensation for the tragic loss of your loved one’s life.