Local news recently brought reports of the death of a 6-year-old Mesa boy in an incident involving a truck. It was another difficult reminder of how precious and fragile families can be. For many people, particularly those with close ties to a tragedy, thoughts turn to the laws we use to find something like justice and maintain some peace of mind.
Without considering any details of the recent incident, here is a review of Arizona’s laws on who can seek justice for the wrongful death of a child, and when. Everyone hopes they will never need to know, but it may serve as a helpful reminder that Arizona has ways of trying to hold responsible parties accountable.
Who can file an Arizona suit for a child’s wrongful death?
In this state, who can file is a key to much else about our wrongful death laws.
When one person (or other entity) causes someone’s death, Arizona sees their responsibility (their liability) toward the deceased as continuing despite the death. Different people can stand in for the deceased depending on the situation, but the liability lives on in whoever caused the death.
Either parent can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a minor child. If the parents are deceased or otherwise unavailable, the child’s guardian can file the suit.
There is a time limit for filing a suit
The death of a child is not something many people ever forget or “get beyond.” Two years to grapple with the emotional turmoil is not much time.
But two years after the child’s date of death is the time limit (the statute of limitations) for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of Arizona. After two years, under most circumstances, courts will reject a wrongful death suit before it begins.
However, there are specific circumstances in which parents or guardians must act by just a few months, and others in which the two-year clock may stop ticking for a while, meaning the practical limit could be much longer. Good legal counsel as soon as possible is important if a wrongful death suit is a possibility.