Obtain Full Case Value in Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The parents of a four-year-old girl recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging medical malpractice against a doctor who negligently sent their severely ill child home from the emergency room. The child got worse instead of better. By the time her parents got her back to the ER five hours later, she was in full cardiopulmonary arrest and could not be saved. The lawsuit alleges that the child died due to the failure of the ER doctor to properly diagnose and treat her illness.

Experts who have reviewed her medical records have found ample evidence that the standard of care was not met. They agree that the child should have been admitted to the hospital at the time her parents first took her to the ER. She absolutely should not have been sent home.

Also named as defendants are the owners of the freestanding ER for failure to properly staff the facility. Although this case occurred in Texas, it could happen in Arizona, which also has freestanding medical emergency facilities similar to the one where this tragic incident occurred.

In another case earlier this year, the families of two Arizona women filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Polaris Industries, the manufacturer of an ATV. The two women, one aged 28 and the other one aged 51, were riding the ATV off-road when it flipped over. Due to what the families allege was a negligent defect in the design of the ATV, gas spewed out of the gas tank when the ATV flipped. The two women were engulfed in fire. They could not be rescued and died at the scene of the accident.

In one more case, one that made national news, an Arizona firearms instructor was killed when a 9-year-old lost control of an Uzi she was holding and accidentally shot the instructor in the head. The instructor's mother, ex-wife and children filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company that chose the weapon for the young girl. The family alleges that selecting that weapon for the child to use at the shooting range was a negligent act that created an unreasonably dangerous environment.

These are just a few examples out of hundreds of incidents that happen in Arizona every year where people are needlessly killed by the negligent acts of another. The loss of a loved one due to negligence can be almost unbearable. Loved one may dwell on thinking “if only…” whatever went wrong had not gone wrong, the person would not have died. The stress and sorrow increase when, as is often the case, the person who died provided all, or at least a portion, of the support for the family members.

Grief is often combined with difficulty in paying bills and buying groceries. The daily routines are disrupted since the loved one is no longer around. Thoughts of survivors lean toward filing a lawsuit to seek compensation for their loss.

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another person or company, you may wonder how to even place a value on your loss. What is a person’s life really worth? How are damages calculated? How can you be sure you obtain full case value for your wrongful death claim?

Valuation of Damages Available for Wrongful Death

Wrongful death damages awarded, either by a jury at trial or a settlement with an insurer, depend on many factors. Basically, there are various types of damages depending on expenses actually incurred and future losses that are the result of the early wrongful death. Some expenses to which you are legally entitled include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Medical expenses incurred to treat the victim before she or he succumbed to death.
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased during the last days or hours of his or her life. Was the deceased conscious and suffering from extreme pain for a prolonged period of time?
  • The pain and suffering experienced by the survivors of the deceased.
  • Was the deceased married? If so, was the widow or widower dependent on the deceased ’s income for support? An adequate award will provide for loss of future income.
  • Did the deceased have minor children that need to be supported and cared for?
  • The amount of wages the deceased was earning at the time of death and the potential for advancement had the deceased lived.
  • The loss of the deceased ’s retirement pension and other benefits.
  • The loss of companionship, advice, comfort and guidance the survivors experience due to the wrongful death of their loved one.
  • Was the death caused by the criminal act of another, such as in a vehicle accident where the at-fault driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI).
  • The death was due to a product about which the manufacturer knew or should have known was dangerous.

There are some factors that may decrease an award.

  • The deceased was on disability and not earning any wages, so there are no lost wages to collect.
  • The deceased was partially at fault for causing the accident that resulted in the death.
  • The life expectancy of the deceased was already shortened due to a medical condition.
  • The deceased died instantly in the accident so did not suffer from any prolonged pain.

Working with an experienced and aggressive wrongful death attorney is one way to be sure you get full valuation in collecting for your wrongful death claim.

The Insurance Company is Not Your Friend

It is important to keep in mind that no matter how kind the insurance company or adjusters seem to be, nor how sympathetic they act, they are not your friend. The job of an adjuster is to save the company money. This is not done if they make full value claim offers and they generally will not do so without putting up a fight.

Insurers have a reputation for making low-ball offers to people who have suffered losses of any kind and who may be in dire straits for money. You may experience this first-hand if you have lost the financial support of your loved one, but are still having to meet your monthly obligations like mortgage or rent, groceries, car payments, car insurance, health insurance, and others. You may be tempted to accept what is offered no matter how low it may seem.

Our Friedl Richard Trial Attorneys have years of experience litigating wrongful death cases. If settling your case is in your best interest, we are good negotiators. If taking your case to trial is a better option, we excel in the courtroom. No matter where you are located in Arizona, contact us for a free consultation.