If a loved one tragically loses his or her life in a preventable accident in Arizona, your family may be entitled to financial compensation for various related losses. This can include reasonable funeral and burial expenses, your loved one’s medical bills, and your pain and suffering. Two main types of claims may be available to you: a survival action and a wrongful death claim.
What Is a Survival Action?
A survival action is a type of civil lawsuit that can be filed on behalf of the deceased person (decedent) after he or she passes away from an injury caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful act. It is a cause of action that “survives” the death of the victim, allowing the decedent’s beneficiaries or estate to bring a claim against the responsible party/ies on behalf of the deceased person.
Arizona Revised Statute Section 14-3110 is the state’s law on survival actions. It states that a cause of action for damages shall survive the death of the person entitled to collect financial compensation, giving the decedent’s estate or heirs the right to continue the lawsuit. In addition, the right to hold someone liable for a death shall survive the death of the liable party and may be asserted against the personal representative of such person.
Who Can File a Survival Action?
A survival action in Arizona can be filed by the deceased individual’s estate. The personal representative or administrator of the decedent’s estate must bring this type of claim. However, the estate is typically acting on behalf of the decedent’s beneficiaries, or those who are entitled to the property of the decedent based on Arizona’s laws of intestate succession. Any compensation recovered by the estate in a survival action may be divided among the decedent’s heirs.
What Compensation Is Available?
A survival action seeks compensation for the deceased individual’s losses – not the losses suffered by surviving family members. In Arizona, however, state law specifically prohibits damages for the pain and suffering of the deceased individual from being recovered in a survival action. Other damages, including the decedent’s lost wages, funeral and burial costs, final medical expenses, and punitive damages, may be sought from one or more defendants in a survival action.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil action brought on behalf of surviving family members or the deceased individual’s estate. It seeks financial compensation from one or more responsible parties for causing or significantly contributing to the victim’s death. Unlike a survival action, it pursues a monetary award to make up for losses suffered by survivors or heirs rather than the decedent.
In Arizona, the definition of wrongful death under Arizona Revised Statute Section 12-611 is the death of a person when it is caused by someone else’s wrongful act, neglect or default. If the deceased person would have been entitled to maintain an action to recover damages had death not ensued, the person or entity that would have been liable can still be held liable with a wrongful death action.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
While some states only permit the personal representative of the decedent’s estate to file a wrongful death claim, Arizona law allows surviving loved ones to file this type of claim themselves. The law states that an action for wrongful death may be brought by a surviving spouse, child, parent or guardian, or personal representative of the decedent on behalf of these parties.
What Compensation Is Available?
With a wrongful death claim, the compensation that could be available includes funeral and burial costs, medical bills, the value of lost wages the decedent would have earned had he or she survived, loss of the decedent’s love and companionship, lost household services, and survivors’ emotional pain and suffering. Any amount recovered with a wrongful death action will be distributed to beneficiaries in proportion to their damages.
To learn more about survival actions vs. wrongful death claims in Arizona, request a free case consultation with an attorney at The Law Offices of John Phebus.