Fair Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases Is Calculated On Several Factors

Arizona law allows a surviving parent, spouse, or child to bring an injury claim against individuals or corporations that are at fault for the death of a person.  A.R.S. 12-612(A).  This type of injury claim is called a wrongful death claim.  In a wrongful death claim, the surviving family is entitled to fair compensation, called “damages” in legal terms, for their loss.  While it can be very difficult to determine what constitutes fair compensation in wrongful death cases, or full damages for the loss of a loved one, the instructions given to Arizona juries in this type of case provide at least some guidance on how to calculate damages.  According to the approved Arizona jury instructions, the measure of damages to the survivors in a wrongful death claim is calculated based on the “loss of love, affection, companionship, care, protection, and guidance” caused by the death as well as the “pain, grief, anguish, stress, shock and mental suffering” experienced by the survivors.[1]  The ultimate decision-maker on the issue what constitutes fair compensation is the jury.

The Role of the Jury in Wrongful Death Cases

The important role of the jury as the sole decider of wrongful death damages is protected by law.  Specifically, Arizona law makes clear that it is only the jury, not the judge, that has the responsibility to “give such damages as it deems fair and just.”  A.R.S. §12-613.  So important is the role of the jury in making this decision that judges are required to give “utmost deference” to the jury’s award and cannot alter the award unless the court makes a specific finding that “no reasonable jury could have reached the verdict based on the evidence presented.”  Ahmad v. State of Arizona, 743 Ariz.Adv.Rep. 8 (Ariz. App. 2016).  These rare occasions when a judge can second guess a jury’s award are limited to circumstances where there is evidence of inappropriate “passion or prejudice” Larriva v. Widmer, 101 Ariz 1 (1966) on the part of the jury or where the jury’s decision is so “unreasonable or outrageous as to shock the conscience.”  Stallcup v. Rathbun, 76 Ariz. 63 (1953).  In other words, Arizona law makes it clear that the right to a trial by jury is protected and valued in wrongful death claims.

If you or someone you know has lost a loved one due to the fault of another individual or corporation, it is important that you contact an attorney that has the knowledge and experience to maximize the odds of success and help you through what can be a very stressful and difficult process.  If you have questions, call attorney Brian Allen at (480) 461-5335 or contact him at bta@udallshumway.com for a free consultation to discuss your rights and options.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Fair Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases, or any other personal injury, please feel free to contact Brian T. Allen at  480.461.5335,  log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.


[1] Arizona Recommended Jury Instructions (Civil) 4th Personal Injury Damages 3.