Case Results: Wrongful Death

Mesa, AZ personal injury attorney Matt Riggs talks about a bad trucking accident case he remembers and the details of how the case went to trial.

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Phone: (480) 539-9400


I have represented may clients whose family members were killed do to the negligence of another person whether it be in medical negligence cases or trucking cases, they could be automobile accident cases. Let me just tell you about this first one it actually went up on appeal. And so, there were three sisters, three little girls who were walking their bikes up a hill and a truck, a man driving a truck came along, lost control of his truck, and hit the sister who was in the middle and killed her. The other two sisters were unharmed other than the sister in front did not see it happen, the sister in back did watch this whole thing happen and watched her sister get killed.

We filed a claim against State Farm, the insurance company, and State Farm, we filed a claim for two different actions one was for the parents for the wrongful death of their daughter. Now a wrongful death claim is derivative of the death meaning but for the death, that other person wouldn’t have a claim. So the parent’s claim was derivative of the death of their daughter but the little sister we filed a claim against State Farm for the negligent inflection of emotional distress.

State Farm said, well, her claim is derivative also so we’re only going to pay half of the full policy to your clients and the daughter and the parents have to share the whole amount. We said no, that’s not right. And so State Farm filed a declaratory judgement action, it went to the Superior Court. The judge ruled in our favor. This is a case of first impression in Arizona, this had never been determined in Arizona this law. And I noticed as I studied the case law around the United States, State Farm this was a pet topic for them they were in the caption of many of the cases dealing with this issue.

So this was not their first fight. State Farm appealed and it went to the Arizona Court of Appeals. We then won at the Court of Appeals level as well. They then appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court and the Arizona Supreme Court said that the judgement and the decision by the Arizona Appellate Court would stand. And so, we created a new law in Arizona regarding that wrongful death case and we were able to get both the one half of the policy for the parents and the other half for the daughter.