The process of pursuing a legal claim for wrongful death under Arizona law involves a number of stages. Our experienced Phoenix wrongful death attorneys at Friedl Richardson know that families have many questions about the legal process when pursuing a wrongful death claim. While every case is unique, we have provided an overview of the process for pursuing a legal claim for damages incurred because of a death caused by negligent, reckless or intentional conduct.
Although most wrongful death claims eventually involve filing a lawsuit, sometimes a fair settlement can be resolved without court intervention. During the pre-litigation phase, our Phoenix wrongful death lawyers gather evidence, talk to witnesses, consult with experts and research relevant case law and applicable statutes. Our law firm builds a compelling claim based on the facts and law so that we can make a formal demand for damages to the parties responsible for causing the wrongful death.
Depending on the specific circumstances, there may be other important steps that must be undertaken prior to filing a lawsuit. If one of the parties responsible for causing a fatality is a government entity, for example, there are special procedures that must be undertaken before a lawsuit can be initiated. The plaintiff must file a Notice of Claim with the public entity. Experienced wrongful death lawyers will have the experience, knowledge and resources to effectively prepare a formal demand while complying with all pre-lawsuit procedures.
A lawsuit is initiated by preparing a Complaint and Summons that must be served on the defendants. The complaint sets for the basic factual allegations and legal claims that constitute the basis for holding the defendant liable as well as the types of damages. These documents and the Answer filed by the defendant are collectively referred to as the “Pleadings.” The answer will provide a responses to the allegations in the complaint and set forth affirmative defenses.
After the pleadings have been filed, the next stage in the litigation is discovery. At this stage in the proceedings, both sides of the wrongful death lawsuit use a variety of tools to obtain information, documents and other evidence from the other side. Some of these discovery tools include:
If the parties have disputes about objections to discovery requests or a party fails to respond, a motion may be filed to compel compliance. The judge can impose sanctions for violating discovery requests that can include financial sanctions or sanctions that harm the non-complying party’s position by presuming certain evidence would favor the other party or pre-determining certain issues.
The parties may attempt to arbitrate their dispute or engage in informal settlement negotiations throughout the litigation process. The discovery process allows each side to more accurately evaluate the relative strength of its position which can facilitate settlement. There will be other hearing prior to trial that may include a Status Conference, Pretrial Conference and other hearings that permit the parties to continue to work toward settlement. These hearing also allow the judge to manage the litigation as it moves toward trial while narrowing the issues in the case.
If the case cannot be settled on terms favorable to our clients, we are prepared to prepare a compelling case that demonstrates the extent of the loss suffered by surviving family members and the role of the defendant in causing that harm. A wrongful death trial in Arizona will be subject to the rules of evidence and court rules. If the jury determines that the defendants’ negligent, reckless or intentional acts caused a wrongful death, it will award damages based on the evidence.
We invite you to schedule a free consultation so that we can answer your questions and evaluate your legal claim. When you retain an Arizona wrongful death attorney from our firm, you can expect the compassionate, caring representation that you need from a team of experienced trial lawyers. We are always prepared for trial if it becomes necessary to obtain the case result our client needs. Our lawyers are highly recognized for their experience. Attorney Bill Friedl is on the Arizona State Bar Advocates’ Panel, and Attorney Tommy Richardson is on the Maricopa County Judicial Selection Committee. Contact our firm today to retain an attorney who can maximize your wrongful death compensation!
Read our Wrongful Death blog for additional information.