The pain, confusion, and trauma that come after a loved one is taken from us can be overwhelming—especially if their death is caused by another’s carelessness or negligence. Let our Utah wrongful death lawyers help you with your wrongful death claim.
While nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one, our Utah wrongful death lawyers can help you hold those responsible accountable for their actions and get the financial compensation you need to begin rebuilding your life.
Start Your Claim for a Fair Wrongful Death Settlement
A fatal accident creates overwhelming feelings and reactions. Some help us heal; others hold us back. When you’re still in the thick of the trauma, it’s important not to move too quickly. On the one hand, the 2-year statute of limitations is not as long as it sounds. It is good to take action! But on the other hand, there are many pitfalls if you’re unprepared. Filing a claim must not be procrastinated, but don’t rush too quickly, either.
3 Reasons Not to Rush After a Fatal Accident
- You don’t know what you’re rushing into. A wrongful death claim is a complicated process. If you don’t know the ropes, it’s like a maze: you know that you need to go in a certain direction to get from Point A to Point B but don’t know which turns to take in order to get there as quickly as possible. After a fatal accident, you might know that you need to obtain a death certificate, contact your insurance company, and file a claim. But there are many steps and judgments to make to ultimately receive a fair settlement. Start the process promptly, but don’t run so fast that you trip over your own feet.
- You’ll make mistakes. By rushing through your wrongful death claim, you’re unlikely to attain your objective quickly. Plus, you may actually end up damaging your case and chances for suitable compensation if you make a wrong move. Making a claim is a science and, as such, requires concrete evidence to back every statement. It is also an art that requires skillful negotiations and informed case presentation. A settlement made too early will almost certainly not account for all expenses. A recorded statement for the wrongdoer’s insurance company could serve to incriminate you later. An improperly filed claim could be denied completely. Wrongful death is a delicate situation. The claim value is typically high. For this reason, the claimant can expect to meet fierce opposition. The precision needed to succeed cannot be achieved in a hurry.
- You have other things to do. The wrongful death process can be time-consuming under the best of circumstances. It depends upon the workings of a bureaucratic machine, not just the speed of the claimant. Even the wait can be emotionally taxing if there is an emotional investment in speed.
Instead of rushing into a settlement, the survivors of a wrongful death should be allowed to focus on their own psychiatric recovery. If your wrongful death case is like most, it will run smoothly with an attorney to represent your interests. Grief, stress, and legal inexperience do not have to sabotage your claim if you have the right advocates for wrongful death on your side.
To learn more about your options following a wrongful death in Utah, call the compassionate attorneys at Good Guys Legal for a free initial consultation at (801) 506-0800.
Wrongful Death Claims FAQs
Our Utah wrongful death attorneys want you to be familiar with wrongful death and the claims process. Here are answers to your wrongful death frequently asked questions from our Utah personal injury attorney.
According to Utah Code Section 78B-3-105, the spouse, children, parents (whether biological or adoptive), and dependent stepchildren of the decedent may file a wrongful death claim in Utah. Other surviving blood relatives may file in the unlikely event that there are no other living relatives. Each heir can have a claim, but only one lawsuit can be brought on behalf of all legal heirs.
With the exception of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, which can be claimed at any time, you must wait 45 days to claim relief for wrongful death. The statute of limitations for wrongful death in Utah is 2 years. However, there are times when extensions may be granted. An example is when the claimant is not of legal age when the death occurs or when it could not reasonably have been discovered that the death was caused by negligence until after the fact.
If you are not sure whether your case warrants an extension, you only have to gain by consulting with a personal injury attorney for wrongful death. It is also important to note that in some circumstances, like in cases involving government agencies or medical malpractice, a formal notice of claim must be filed with the proper agency within 1 year.
To start your claim, you notify your insurer. Then, gather all the necessary documentation — death certificate, any evidence of negligence, etc. In some cases, there may be a personal injury claim already in motion that you will be able to join. Otherwise, you and any other heirs can start the claim. The compensation award will be shared among the heirs, so filing jointly could be beneficial.
The damages you can be compensated for in wrongful death include medical costs, lost wages and/or earning capacity, pain and suffering, attorney fees, and any costs that are the direct consequence of the wrongful death. You may claim compensation for all categories that apply. The amount of a claim may vary.
Yes, heirs can file their wrongful death claims separately. But there is little reason for them to do so. The presumptive personal representative represents the interests of all the decedent’s heirs. The allotment of damages is not likely to favor the person who files a separate claim. Even minor heirs who cannot legally file a claim may be included in joint claims. However, the court approves the distribution of proceeds and appoints a conservator for the minor heirs. No more than 50% of the award may be disseminated.
Depending on the situation, many parties can be held responsible for wrongful death. In a car accident, another driver may be held to account for reckless driving, the city for failure to maintain the road or an automobile manufacturer for a faulty product. In workplace accidents, an employer may be liable. Plus, your own insurance coverage may be sufficient to cover accident costs. Your Utah wrongful death lawyers can help you pursue all sources of compensation.
The compensation to be awarded in a wrongful death case varies from case to case. The family totals the allowable categories of losses, including final medical bills, lost financial and emotional contributions to the family, and pain and suffering. There may also be other factors that impact the value of the case, like the strength of the legal case and the nature of the wrongful conduct that resulted in the accident. The best way to find how much you can expect from a wrongful death claim is to talk to a personal injury attorney.
Whether the amount of compensation awarded for wrongful death is public record depends on how the claim is resolved. If the claim is settled or arbitrated, the amount awarded for compensation can remain private. However, if the case goes to court and is settled by litigation, it becomes part of the state record.
The claim survives if the wrongdoer dies during the course of a wrongful death claim. Personal representatives of either the wrongdoer or the victims may continue the case between estates. The victims of wrongful death are not deprived of compensation by the death of the at-fault party.
Yes, there are differences between murder and wrongful death, although the two sometimes share some common ground. A murder is a criminal act, whereas death caused by the negligence or wrongful acts of another is not necessarily motivated by malice or greed. Civil damages may be awarded to the heirs of the decedent in either case, although negligent acts do not usually call for criminal charges unless they amount to murder or manslaughter.
Contact Our Attorneys for Help With Your Wrongful Death Case
Wrongful death cases are complex. Settlement amounts are often high because of the extreme devastation that has occurred. Funeral expenses are high, laws surrounding these claims are complex, and reputations are on the line.
A wrongful death places more than a monetary burden on the shoulders of the defendant and their insurance provider. Cases can be high conflict. When conditions become truly distressing, an experienced legal representative is poised to negotiate directly with insurance companies. They can remove much of the hardship of a wrongful death case.