Our hearts go out to the family of Brayden Lott who was tragically killed when he was struck by a vehicle on a busy street in West Phoenix. According to reports, he was hit by a dump truck early in the morning, and he died later that day. There are no words that can express our condolences, and we feel terrible for this family. The reality is that any death to any child is unspeakable in terms of how terrible it must be for the family involved.
We are often asked, in similar situations, why we pursue personal injury claims in Arizona when a child has been killed. Many people rightfully point out that money cannot undo the loss to the family.
We have given this a lot of thought over the years and we have had to answer the question many times. Why should the family who has lost a child in a wrongful death case bring a lawsuit when the money can never undo the harm? Well, it is true that money can never come close to helping out a family in terms of the emotional loss of a child. However, nothing can do this. However, there are often many financial implications to the loss of a child. Are the grieving parents supposed to go to work the next morning? What will the parents need to do to keep the family together? What about the surviving siblings and their loss? And what of the negligent driver who had insurance, should the insurance company just get off scot-free because money cannot “undo” the harm?
These tragedies – and they are tragedies – are followed by so many questions for these poor families who have to suffer such a loss. How then does a family make the decision whether or not to even consider bringing any kind of claim, after the initial horrendous trauma wears off? From what we have seen, it is a decision that has to be made by each individual family after the wrongful death of a child. It is not the right decision for every family to pursue a wrongful death claim even if the law allows it. Even where there is provable negligence and it can be shown that somebody’s negligent act and neglect caused the death of an innocent victim that a personal injury claim must be brought. The fact that the law allows a claim does not make it the best decision for the family.
On the other hand, many people who have lost a child or suffered a similar tragedy want to have some feeling of justice. They want to have a moment where the person at fault, even if they were at fault due to simple negligence, is held accountable in some way. Where there is something or someone that makes it clear that the loss of the family member or child was not in vain. Sometimes, it can be very important for the family that there be an admission of fault and that somebody – even if it is a jury of their peers that they would never meet otherwise – come back and say in open court that the loss of this family member or child was important and it was understood and that the life that was lost was valued. Therefore, if no wrongful death claim is pursued, to some families this makes them feel even more empty and feel as though they should have pursued some measure of justice as a result of their loss.
Even though we are experienced Phoenix Arizona wrongful death attorneys, and even as a certified specialist in injury and wrongful death, I would never try to talk any family into bringing a wrongful death lawsuit involving the loss of their child unless it was in their best interest. Unless it was emotionally helpful instead of harmful. Unless the process would be a benefit to them, not one more burden that they must deal with. Therefore, families that have to make this decision following any wrongful death situation, should always first consult with an experienced lawyer that will not try to push them one way or the other, but will be there to answer their questions and help them through the beginning of the process so that the family can decide what may be in their best interests. Nothing can undo a tragedy like the one that was suffered by this nine year old boy, or to all the other victims of car accidents in Arizona and throughout the United States. However, instead of questioning the motives of the families who choose to bring these claims, I think we should — as a community, support whatever decision they make and whichever rights they choose to pursue under the law.