Wrongful Death and Arizona Workplace Accidents
Losing a loved one to an on-the-job death is an incredibly traumatic experience for the loved ones that survive them, and as such, an array of benefits exist to support these families as they mourn. Usually, those benefits take the form of worker’s compensation, but at times, a wrongful death claim can be just as valid, offering families more extensive compensation for their pain, suffering, and loss of companionship.
When a Wrongful Death Claim is Applicable
Under normal circumstances, worker’s compensation laws and employment contracts invalidate wrongful death claims in the event of workplace death, as families are instead covered through worker’s compensation. However, two primary exceptions to that rule exist:
- When a death occurs in the workplace but is caused by the actions of a third party (i.e. anyone who isn’t directly employed by the same company), you can file a wrongful death claim. For example, aggravated assault and murder during a robbery, fatal accidents for delivery drivers, and technicians dying to dangerous products or poor work from other companies all qualify as valid situations to file both wrongful death and worker’s compensation claims.
- Under A.R.S. Section 12-611, wrongful death claims for workplace accidents can be filed unconditionally if the company was unreasonably negligent and reckless in their safety precautions. To be specific, as long as the negligence would have made the victim eligible for a personal injury claim had they not died, a wrongful death claim can be filed.
Distinguishing Wrongful Death and Worker’s Compensation Claims
Although wrongful death claims and worker’s compensation death benefits both provide support to the families of those who die in the workplace, the two are extremely distinct.
- Clearly defined, consistent definitions and limits for worker’s compensation death benefits exist, whereas wrongful death claims are functionally unlimited and provide widely varying levels of compensation, based on the unique particulars of the case and the prowess of the attorney pursuing it.
- Dependents don’t need to do much to successfully receive worker’s compensation death benefits—once they provide proof that their loved one passed away and worked for the company, they’re more or less done, and there’s no negotiation. Conversely, wrongful death benefits can only be received if the family proves unquestionably that the death of their loved one was caused by negligence on the part of the company; additionally, they’ll need to provide comprehensive evidence of their exact damages and suffering, and will definitely need a competent wrongful death attorney in Arizona to handle the case process for them.
Talk to an Arizona Wrongful Death Attorney
Filing a wrongful death claim is no easy task, and it can be difficult to know whether or not the undertaking is worth it on your own. If you’ve lost a loved one to a workplace accident in Arizona, give ELG a call at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate Phoenix wrongful death attorney who can answer any questions you might have, evaluate your case, and then secure you and your family the compensation you deserve for losing such a vital part of your life.