Unexpectedly losing a loved one is devastating enough. But it makes matters worse when you lose a loved one due to the negligence or intentional actions of another. Unfortunately, wrongful death cases are more common than you think.
In fact, medical malpractice alone contributes to thousands of wrongful death lawsuits every year. According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die annually from medical errors and negligence. However, wrongful death can also result from car crashes, work-related accidents, defective products, and unsafe premises. Utah is no exception to this.
The good news is you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the responsible party accountable. While it can’t bring your loved one back, you can recover damages for your pain and suffering, among other things. But the process can be overwhelming for most people, especially when you are grieving the loss of your loved one.
In other words, be prepared before filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Here’s what you need to know.
Let’s start with the basics.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death is a legal term used to describe a situation in which an individual, company, or entity’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions cause a person’s death. When someone dies as a result of such actions, as the surviving family members or beneficiaries, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, this is a civil lawsuit that helps you recover damages. There is no imprisonment or punishment for the responsible party.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for filling a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Utah?
Like most other states, you must file the wrongful death lawsuit in Utah within a specific time frame. Generally, the Utah wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date of the deceased person’s death. This means you have limited time to get the wheels in motion. So, consult a competent Utah wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. They can help you take the necessary legal steps to file your claim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Utah?
Utah has strict laws in place. Usually, immediate family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Utah. If your immediate family member, such as a parent, sibling, child, or spouse, suffered a wrongful death, you can bring a lawsuit to seek damages.
Here’s a breakup of who can file the lawsuit.
- If the deceased was married, their spouse can file the lawsuit.
- If the deceased was not married but had children, the children can file the lawsuit.
- If the deceased was a minor, parents can file a lawsuit.
- If there are no immediate family members; siblings, or extended family members can file the lawsuit.
However, not every wrongful death case is the same. You should consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to know your options.
What Damages Can You Recover in A Wrongful Death Claim in Utah?
In Utah, you can recover different damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Usually, you can recover compensatory damages from a successful wrongful death claim. The court intends to provide you with compensation for your loss. These damages include:
1. Economic Damages: As the name suggests, these damages compensate you for the financial costs incurred due to the wrongful death of your loved one. Economic damages are easy to calculate because they involve tangible, specific monetary losses. Plus, you can support them with plenty of documents and evidence.
Some of the economic damages you can typically recover include:
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Medical expenses such as treatment costs, medical bills, and hospital stays.
- Lost wages, including the value of future wages and benefits the deceased could have earned.
2. Non-Economic Damages: Unlike economic damages, which cover specific financial losses like medical bills and lost wages, non-economic damages are more subjective and address intangible losses and emotional suffering. In most cases, you can recover the following non-economic damages:
- Pain and Suffering: This includes physical pain and emotional distress experienced as a result of the injury before your loved one’s death. As these damages are subjective, they may vary significantly based on the circumstances of each wrongful death lawsuit.
- Emotional Distress: The court may award these damages to compensate for emotional trauma, anxiety, depression, or other psychological issues resulting from the death of your loved one.
- Loss of Consortium: This refers to the loss of companionship, affection, and intimacy between you and the deceased person. These damages recognize how your loved one’s death affects personal relationships and overall life.
As you can see, non-economic damages are more challenging to calculate because they involve abstract concepts and are often subjective in nature. In wrongful death lawsuits, the court will determine these damages based on the evidence presented, including testimony from the victim, medical professionals, mental health experts, and other relevant witnesses.
Why Do You Need Legal Representation?
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit without a lawyer can quickly backfire. For instance, the defendant’s lawyer will make you a lowball offer and may even get away with it. Secondly, the legal process can be daunting, especially as you may not have legal knowledge or insights.
On the other hand, hiring a lawyer comes with the following advantages.
- Expertise: Most wrongful death cases are complex. A qualified attorney has a deep understanding of the state laws, and they can navigate the legal complexities with ease. They ensure your claim gets filed correctly and within the statute of limitations.
- Investigation: A competent Utah wrongful death lawyer will have the resources and experience to conduct thorough investigations. They can gather evidence, interview witnesses, consult experts, and build a strong case to support your claim. This is crucial in proving negligence in a wrongful death case.
- Proper Valuation: Your lawyer is the best person to determine the value of a wrongful death case. They can assess the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost income, emotional suffering, and other losses. That, in turn, will help you seek appropriate compensation.
- Negotiate a Settlement: If the party at fault is insured, their insurance company will likely be involved. Lawyers are experienced in dealing with insurance companies and can negotiate on your behalf to ensure you receive fair compensation.
While a wrongful death lawsuit cannot bring your loved one back, it can help relieve your financial stress. It’s a legal way to get compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. But you must file the lawsuit within the statute of limitations, among taking other legal precautions. That’s why you need a skilled, professional wrongful death attorney by your side.
Are you thinking of filing a wrongful death lawsuit? Our personal injury attorneys are here to help. Get in touch with us to schedule a consultation today!