What Is A Wrongful Death As It Relates To Personal Injury Law?
A wrongful death is a very sad and complicated event that is loaded with different aspects of law. Years ago, if a person was killed in an accident, there was no way to go after the wrongdoer who was responsible for killing that person. In other words, the cause of action was extinguished. A good bunch of years ago, a wrongful death statute was created, which states that certain beneficiaries called statutory beneficiaries can collect against the wrongdoer. This statute resurrected the cause of action.
In Arizona, the parents, spouses and children of the person who died can collect. I have chosen not to have children and both of my parents are deceased, so if I were to die, my wife would collect. If I didn’t have a wife, then the medical bills and the funeral bills could be reimbursed to the estate. When someone has been killed, it leaves a harsh wound for the close family members who are left behind. There are a lot of emotions involved with these cases, because they deal with someone losing a person to whom they might have been close.
Who Can Bring About A Wrongful Death Case?
The parents, the spouse or the children of the deceased person can bring a wrongful death case. If I were killed, and I had no parents, no spouse and no children, then the medical bills and funeral costs would be collected and would go to the estate. Sometimes we get caught between two states, which could lead to a battle to determine which statute governs.
What Are The Top Misconceptions People Have About Wrongful Death Suits?
One misconception is about how they are evaluated, and I’ll answer that later. These cases often lead to a lot of fights and complications. How do you evaluate the loss of a mother vis-a-vis her parents and children? Some people have huge numbers in their mind. Oftentimes litigation is necessary in order to define who collects under the statute. For example, the fiancé of a deceased person cannot collect because they are not technically a spouse of the deceased person. There could be some kind of battle whether there was a common law marriage.
One of the biggest misconceptions is the belief that these cases can be handled without an attorney. One of the biggest complications is the insurance company’s evaluation of the case. Not every case is a case, because sometimes the deceased person caused the accident. Sometimes there is no insurance to collect from the accident, because the person who caused the accident is living paycheck to paycheck. Another misconception is the idea that just because someone dies, it is a wrongful death case. Another misconception is the idea which people can collect monies because of the death in question.
The word consortium often comes up, which is a very broad term. In fact, books have been written about consortium. In simple language, consortium has to do with how strong the bond was between parent and child. Did the deceased parent live in Alaska and only see his child once every 15 years? Consortium refers to the bond and level of closeness between someone and the deceased person, which is not something that can be manufactured. A lot of feelings develop after a death, but there is a misconception that the family members left behind will need psychiatric care because they are having some trouble grieving.
In some cases, a fight will arise between stepchildren, adopted children or natural children about who is entitled to collect and how much? Sometimes fights develop over how to go about dividing the money between the parents, children and the spouse. Sometimes there are real battles wherein a daughter might say the mother is dead, and her sister was never there, or that it was a really lousy relationship. Battles can occur between the statutory beneficiaries in regards to what they believe they are entitled to. It’s much easier when there are loving members of the family involved, who just want to help each other out. We usually deal with reasonable people who can work out a reasonable settlement. However, greed is always an element when money is involved. Not every family is easy to work with. If there is large insurance for a bad loss, then there are usually numerous battles over who gets what.
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