Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer
When you first lose a loved one due to negligence or cruel intent, hiring a Utah wrongful death lawyer is probably the last thing on your mind. Grief is a process, and no two people manage it the same. Losing a spouse, partner, or parent due to someone else’s carelessness or cruelty can make the grief even more difficult. And once the funeral is over, and your loved one has been laid to rest, you still have to figure out how to spend the rest of your life without them.
If the loss of your loved one also leaves you with significant financial difficulties, you may be entitled to compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. But filing a lawsuit on your own is challenging, not to mention emotionally taxing. There are a lot of rules and deadlines to be aware of, as well as paperwork to fill out. Hiring a Utah wrongful death lawyer can ease the process for you, taking on much of the burden so you don’t have to.
The wrongful death lawyers at Harris, Preston, & Chambers have years of experience practicing law in Utah and can help you through this challenging time. With a combination of empathy and experience, they will do everything they can to help you win your case.
What is Wrongful Death According to Utah Law?
According to Utah Law, wrongful death is death that is caused by a “wrongful act, default or neglect.” Whether it’s a doctor making a judgment error or a motorist driving drunk, there is a person or entity at fault for your loved one’s death. In many ways, wrongful death is similar to a personal injury lawsuit. The negligent actions that cause personal injury may also cause wrongful death. However, the obvious difference is that the victim of negligence or cruel intent passed away. Rather than the victim themselves, the victim’s family files the claim in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Although every situation is unique, some of the most common causes of wrongful deaths include:
- Medical malpractice
- Car accidents
- Criminal actions
- Workplace accidents
- Exposure to hazardous materials in the workplace
- Sharing or administering illegal drugs
- Faulty products or parts
- Nursing home neglect or abuse
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- DUI accidents
- Dog attacks
There are many other causes of wrongful death that might be included in a wrongful death lawsuit, and the above list is in no way exhaustive. One thing to note is that a wrongful death lawsuit needs to have someone at fault in order to be viable. Whether it’s an individual, a company, or the government, the fault needs to belong to someone. Natural disasters, acts of God, and other major incidents with no one to blame will not make for a successful wrongful death lawsuit. If you’re unsure whether or not you have a case, talking to an experienced Utah wrongful death lawyer is a good place to start. They will understand the ever-changing laws and can advise you on your best next steps.
How Much is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit worth?
If you believe your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s neglect, you might be wondering how much a wrongful death lawsuit is actually worth. A lawsuit takes a lot of work, and you want to make sure it’s worth your time to pursue.
However, because of how unique every wrongful death lawsuit is, it’s impossible to give a flat number. There are a number of factors that will be at play when determining how much compensation you might receive.
First of all, the age of the deceased, their health, as well as their life expectancy will affect the amount you might be rewarded. Having children, a spouse or partner, or dependents also affect the outcome vastly, compared to someone who had no dependents. Another factor that will affect the worth of a wrongful death case is whether or not there are medical expenses. If the deceased was being treated in the hospital for a long time before their death, they may have larger expenses than someone who passed away at the time of the incident. A wrongful death attorney in Utah can help you determine what kind of damages you might seek and how much to pursue.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
In the case of a wrongful death suit, not just anybody can file a claim. In general, the people eligible to file a wrongful death suit are the heirs of the deceased. According to Utah law, heirs are described as the deceased’s spouse, children/adopted children, or stepchildren if they are under 18 at the time of the death. If the deceased has none of the above, the next closest blood relative would be considered the heir, including grandchildren, parents, or siblings. In some instances, the deceased’s estate can file a lawsuit for wrongful death.
The priority for who can file a wrongful death suit is as follows:
- Immediate family members, including spouse, life partner, and children.
- Financial dependents
- Extended family
Typically, only one person can file a wrongful death suit, so it’s essential for the right person to be named on the suit. A wrongful death attorney in Utah can advise you who to name on the suit to help you get the best outcome for your case.
Statute of Limitations
As with all civil suits, Utah has a statute of limitation for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. A statute of limitations is the deadline by which you must file your lawsuit. In the case of a wrongful death, you have two years from the death of your loved one to file your claim. If the entity you’re suing is the government, however, you only have one year to file your claim. It’s typically best to file the suit as soon as you’re able so that you don’t miss deadlines by accident.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, damages are the monetary compensation the plaintiff is awarded. Damages are typically divided into different categories, and the available damages in your lawsuit will depend on the case itself. An experienced wrongful death lawyer in Utah can advise you on the kind of compensation you should pursue. For some cases, you may only want or need to claim one kind of compensation. However, in more complicated cases, you may be able to pursue multiple kinds of damages.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, most damages are economic damages. These kinds of damages seek to compensate you for the monetary value you lost due to the death of your loved ones. The losses are concrete and determining the amount to seek is fairly simple. The other kind of available damages in a wrongful death suit fall under the category of noneconomic damages. These are for losses that are more difficult to put a value on. Finally, in some rare cases, you may be able to pursue punitive damages. Punitive damages seek to punish the person at fault. It’s important to note that there are limits to the amount of damages you may receive. Extremely high damages are unlikely to be granted. A wrongful death attorney in Utah will know what is fair and help you determine how much compensation to seek for your losses.
If the decedent had any kind of medical bills due to the incident that caused their wrongful death, you may be able to receive compensation for those bills. The cost of medical care can be extraordinarily high. Although some wrongful deaths happen instantly, others leave the victim fighting for their life for some time. Interventions taken in the effort to save your loved one’s life can be costly. You shouldn’t be left to pay for someone else’s negligence or criminal activity.
- Hospital bills
- Doctor’s visits
- Physical therapy
In order to claim medical expenses in your wrongful death suit, make sure to keep track of all medical bills from your loved one’s treatments. Wrongful death lawyers can only work with the information they have, so keeping track of and handing over any and all bills is essential to your case.
If your loved one has died wrongfully, you’re entitled to compensation for their funeral expenses. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral and burial in the United States is around $7,848. For a cremation, the average is slightly lower, at $6,971. Some of the typical costs to bury a loved one include:
- Funeral home’s basic fee: $2300
- Transportation of remains to funeral home: $350
- Embalming: $775
- Preparing the body: $275
- Facilities and staff to manage a viewing: $450
- Facilities and staff to manage a funeral service: $515
- Hearse: $350
- Service car: $150
- Basic memorial printed package: $183
- Metal casket: $2500
- Vault/grave box: $1572
These are just the basics and don’t include the headstone, the burial plot, flowers, and other costs that may accompany the funeral. Compensation for the funeral expenses in no way makes up for the loss of your loved one, but helps reduce your financial burden.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Suit
In addition to medical expenses and funeral costs, a wrongful death lawsuit aims to compensate you for other losses associated with the wrongful death of your loved one. The following are some of the typical damages you may be able to receive in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Loss of earnings: If the deceased provided financially for the surviving loved ones, the loss of that financial support can cause major difficulties. Loss of earnings seeks to compensate for that loss of financial support. Being compensated for the loss of earnings helps protect dependent loved ones from losing their homes and other financial burdens.
- Loss of medical benefits: The loss of medical benefits is another major financial setback when a loved one suffers a wrongful death. If the decedent was the provider of medical benefits, you may be able to pursue compensation for the loss of those benefits.
- Pain and suffering of the decedent’s loved ones: Considered a non-economic damage, pain and suffering refers to the suffering of the decedent’s loved ones due to their wrongful death. After losing a loved one, many people suffer emotionally and mentally. Some may even need to seek therapy after the trauma of the loss. The amount you are eligible for will vary greatly depending on your unique case.
- Pain and suffering of the decedent: If your loved one experienced significant pain and suffering between the time of the incident and their wrongful death, you may be able to receive compensation for their pain and suffering.
- Loss of companionship: Losing a spouse or life partner comes with the loss of their companionship. It’s impossible to make up for this loss, but being awarded damages for loss of companionship is one way for a loved one to receive some justice.
- Loss of council, affection, and advice: In losing a parent, especially at a young age, you lose the wisdom and love they have to offer. No amount of money can truly make up for this. But this compensatory damage aims to help support the children of those who pass away wrongfully.
- Punitive damages: In some cases, the defendant may be made to pay punitive damages as a way to pay for their crimes or egregious neglect. These damages aim to dissuade the defendant from acting in such a way every again. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in wrongful death lawsuits, but not impossible to receive.
Depending on your unique case, you may be able to pursue other available damages. A Utah wrongful death lawyer will advise you on the best course of action to take. Experienced wrongful death lawyers understand the complexities of the ever changing law as well as what kinds of compensation are more likely to be awarded.
Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one is never easy. Losing a loved one due to someone’s neglect or criminal action is even more heartbreaking. Hiring a wrongful death attorney in Utah won’t bring your loved one back, but it can help restore some of your peace of mind. A wrongful death lawyer collects and stores paperwork, files all the nitty-gritty legal papers, and all other matters relating to the lawsuit so that you don’t have to. An experienced wrongful death attorney in Utah knows the ins and outs of Utah law and will know how best to pursue your unique case.
If you’re looking for an experienced, empathetic wrongful death attorney in Utah, consider Harris, Preston, & Chambers. We work with clients across the state of Utah, helping ease their burdens after the wrongful death of a loved one. We’ll help you navigate the complicated legal system, taking your claim to court if needs be. Contact us today for a free consultation.