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People who are dealing with the untimely loss of a loved one often need to know, is wrongful death a civil or criminal case? In the State of Arizona, it is a civil case. This means that if a family member of yours dies in an accident or other situation, you may be able to file a claim against the other party and get compensation, if you can prove fault.

What Is the Meaning of Wrongful Death as a Civil, Not Criminal, Charge?

is wrongful death a civil or criminal

In Arizona, wrongful death refers to a death caused by another party’s negligence or wrongful act. In wrongful death cases, the surviving family members can take legal action against the at-fault party. Family members may be a:

  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Guardian
  • Personal representative of the deceased individual

Wrongful death can result from both unintentional and intentional conduct. Common types of wrongful death lawsuits include car accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, premises liability and criminal acts.

Wrongful death is not a crime. Instead, in a civil suit, the prosecuting party can request financial compensation for costs related to the deceased as well as the surviving family.

What Are General Damages for Wrongful Death?

Damages awarded generally fall into two categories: losses related to the death of the victim and damages suffered by the surviving family members.

The surviving party may file a wrongful death lawsuit if, in the event the decedent did not die, the victim would have filed a personal injury lawsuit for injuries sustained. In most situations, the statute of limitations for filing this lawsuit is two years.

Damages related to the victim may include:

  • Medical expenses before death occurred
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages in the event the victim had survived
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to death

Damages awarded to family members may include lost wages, loss of care or companionship and emotional suffering. The prosecution may also seek punitive damages, although this is less common.

Determining the actual compensation varies based on the individual or entity who files the lawsuit. For example, a child’s damages would differ from a personal representative’s.

What Is the Difference Between Homicide and Wrongful Death?

is wrongful death a civil or criminal

The biggest difference is that homicide is a criminal charge, while wrongful death is a civil one, and the handling of each case occurs in different court systems.

The penalties associated with civil cases, such as wrongful death, are strictly financial. The penalties associated with criminal cases include fines, court fees and jail time.

An individual facing a wrongful death charge may also face homicide charges if he or she acted with intent against the deceased or broke a law.

Who Should You Contact for a Wrongful Death Civil Case?

Now that you know that wrongful death is a civil not a criminal case, you may wonder what your next step should be. We can examine your case and see if it’s eligible as well as help determine fair and just compensation to cover damages to you and the deceased. If you are a spouse, parent or child of someone who received fatal injuries due to the negligence of someone else, contact us today.