Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Estates

A wrongful death claim applies when someone is killed from negligence or an intentionally harmful act. Wrongful death claims are filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased on behalf of the surviving family members. Had the victim survived, they would have likely filed a personal injury claim. Reasons for filing a wrongful death claim include the following:

  • Medical Malpractice
  • Accidents that occur at work
  • Car, train, airplane or bus accidents
  • Abuse or neglect in a nursing home
  • As a result of a criminal act
  • Exposure to harmful substances at work, such as asbestos

If the deceased possessed an estate, the executor can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate of the deceased, as a estate planning lawyer Phoenix AZ trusts can attest. If there was no will or estate,  this is called “intestate.” In the case of intestate, the laws concerning dying intestate determine the estate’s executor. In addition, if the will does not designate an executor, or if the assigned executor cannot perform the required duties, a judge may step in on behalf of the estate and assign an executor.

If you suspect you have a wrongful death claim because of the manner in which your loved one died, don’t hesitate to contact a skilled lawyer. Time is of the essence, and gathering evidence is vitally important in proving wrongful death. A wrongful death attorney can help research the evidence surrounding your loved one’s death and discuss how to represent the estate on their behalf.

What can you expect to receive from a wrongful death claim?

Before determining the value of a lawsuit, the following issues need to be addressed:

  • Did other individuals depend on the decedent financially?
  • Was your loved one married or single and did they have any minor children?
  • How much did your loved one suffer because of the wrongful death?
  • What were the total funeral costs?
  • Did you incur any medical costs to help save your loved one’s life?
  • Did your loved one’s behavior contribute to the incident? If so, this might result in a lower monetary settlement.

Instances that may increase the amount of a settlement include:

  • If the decedent had minor children
  • Costly medical procedures prior to the individual’s death
  • Problems with the insurance company not paying claims and/or acting unprofessionally and unethically
  • Continued production of or exposure to a product deemed dangerous (if the company producing/distributing the product knew of its danger)
  • Altered medical records after a medical malpractice incident in a hospital or doctor’s office

It is critical that you contact an attorney as soon as you suspect your loved one may have been a victim of a wrongful death. Document any evidence, emails, conversations, videos that may help strengthen your case.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Kamper Estrada, LLC for their insight into estate planning and wrongful death.