Under Arizona's “Wrongful Death" statute, A.R.S. 12-611, wrongful death is defined as a death caused by “the wrongful act, neglect or default of another.” A claim for wrongful death is essentially a personal injury lawsuit brought on behalf of a deceased person by a family member or the personal representative of the deceased person's estate. The claim must be brought within two years from the date of death, and may only be filed by the following persons:
- the surviving spouse of the deceased person;
- any surviving child of the deceased person;
- a surviving parent or guardian of the deceased person;
- the personal representative of a deceased spouse, child, parent, or guardian; or
- the personal representative of the deceased person's estate.
Typical damages that may be recovered by the decedent's estate in a wrongful death case include:
- funeral and burial expenses;
- medical bills for emergency treatment received by the decedent just prior to death;
- wages or benefits the deceased person would have earned if he or she had survived;
- The cost to repair or replace any property damaged in the event; and
- pain and suffering endured by the deceased person before death.
In addition, the following damages may also be recovered by family members of the decedent:
- the value of household services performed by the decedent;
- the loss of care, companionship, and guidance; and
- pain and suffering due to the decedent's death.
It is up to the surviving family members to decide how to allocate the damages awarded amongst themselves. Otherwise, the Court may enter a binding Order apportioning damages amongst the members.