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Who Is Entitled to Wrongful Death Benefits?

Sign with judge's gavel. Who is entitled to wrongful death benefits?

Are you wondering who is entitled to wrongful death benefits? If your loved one passes away due to negligence or unlawful acts, you may be entitled to financial compensation. This is known as wrongful death benefits . A court may award these benefits to the deceased’s close family members in certain circumstances. In this article, we discuss who can receive these benefits and how they can help.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Generally, a spouse, parent, grandparent, or child of the deceased person may file a wrongful death claim. An individual representative of the estate can also file a claim against the at-fault party to recover damages for medical expenses and funeral costs. In some circumstances, other close relatives such as siblings or step-children may also be eligible to receive compensation for loss and suffering through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Is Entitled to Wrongful Death Benefits?

Generally, when a person has died due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another individual, the family of that person may be entitled to financial compensation. This is known as a wrongful death claim. Under most state laws, survivors such as the spouse, parents, children and/or other relatives of the victim have a legal right to sue for financial damages associated with their personal losses due to the victim’s death. Monetary damages can include things such as medical bills incurred prior to death, burial or funeral expenses, pain and suffering, loss of future earnings or companionship and more.

Who is entitled to wrongful death benefits in Arizona?

There is no simple answer to this. The court determines who is entitled to wrongful death benefits based on the proportion each family member’s damages resulting from the death of the decedent.  A.R.S. § 12-612(C).  Distribution is not governed by the law of intestate succession.  See Hurt v. Superior Court, 124 Ariz. 45, 50, 601 P.2d 1329, 1334 (1979).

The Plaintiff in a wrongful death action is a statutory trustee that is responsible for distributing the recovery to all of the individuals who would have their own claim. That group is limited to spouses, children and parents. So a recovery for a wrongful death action beyond out of pocket expenses is not an estate asset. The funds that go to the individuals who have claims is for their own individual loss due to the wrongful death and are not inheritance.

Get an attorney to help you figure this out. You don’t want to pay the money out (or take it for yourself) and later find out that you did the wrong thing!

How Do You Prove Negligence or Intentional Injury?

In order to prove a wrongful death claim, the survivor must show that the death was caused by the reckless or intentional act of another person. This requires proof of negligence or intentionality beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence used in such cases can include witness accounts, video or photographic footage, medical records and other documentation. That evidence must establish negligence or malicious intent on behalf of the defendant. It’s essential to contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer for help in proving wrongdoing on behalf of the responsible party.

Looking for help with your wrongful death claim? Give us a call.

We can refer you to a top wrongful death attorney. Give us a call at 602-443-4888. Don’t risk choosing the wrong one and getting a fraction of what you are entitled to.

How Is Economic Damages Calculated?

Economic damages cover any type of loss or expenses related to the death of the decedent. These losses could include medical bills, future wages and economic benefits from the decedent, burial and funeral costs. The losses can also include pain and suffering. To evaluate economic damages, a wrongful death lawyer will typically consider the following:

  • lost wages,
  • annual increases in earnings that the deceased would have expected to receive over the course of their lifetime,
  • potential inheritance lost by surviving family members, and
  • other quantifiable factors that can be estimated objectively.

What Are Non-Economic Damages in Wrongful Death Claims?

Non-economic damages provide compensation for the suffering, sorrow, and loss of companionship that the surviving family members experience in wrongful death lawsuits. The court cannot calculate these damages objectively. Instead, non-economic damages often depend on a jury’s interpretation of the evidence that the lawyers present during trial. Examples of non-economic damages that may be awarded to surviving family members include:

  • pain and suffering,
  • mental anguish,
  • shock or surprise,
  • lost love and companionship,
  • disfigurement or disability,
  • lost protection and care from the deceased,
  • denied inheritance as a result of the death,
  • destruction of spousal relationship benefits,
  • and similar losses.

Call Us to Find Out Who Is Entitled to Wrongful Death Benefits.

You can’t rely on a blog post to answer your particular question. Each case is different. We can help you get clarify. Just give us a call at 602-443-4888. We’re here to help.


Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.