What is wrongful death?
When people are killed in accidents, such as in vehicles or on the job, loved ones can be left with huge medical bills as well as overwhelming concern about what to do next. This is especially true when the breadwinner passes away. Wrongful death actions can help reduce a stress and provide for long-term needs in such unexpected circumstances. These actions occur when someone can be found liable for the death. In other words, if a person could be held liable for the injuries incurred had the person not passed away, then that person who caused the injury could be held liable for wrongful death. For example, in situations when an intoxicated person causes an accident the drunk driver could be found liable.
Who can file an action for wrongful death?
Arizona law provides that an action for wrongful death must be commenced by a surviving spouse, child, parent or guardian. It also provides that a “personal representative” can bring a suit. Personal representatives are persons to whom testamentary or administrative letters have been granted by the court. When a person executes a will they designate someone to administer their estate (property). After the person passes away the administrator takes the will to a court and the court issues a letter of administration (also known as a testamentary letter). With this letter the representative may now administer the affairs of the estate including, if applicable, filing an action for wrongful death.
When does the action need to be filed?
The statute of limitations denotes the period of time during which a person can file a court action. In wrongful death actions the statute of limitation generally begins at the time of death and lasts two years. This means that someone can file an action up to two years after the date of the death.