Those who have lost loved ones from accidents or incidents caused by another person’s or entity’s negligence or wrongful act are devastated and traumatized. During this chaotic period in the weeks and months following your loved one’s wrongful death, you may not know which way to turn. We specialize in wrongful death cases. Every case is just a claim number to the insurance companies, but we take the time to get to know our clients and their loved ones who were killed in the accident. We use videos, photographs, and stories so the insurance adjuster knows how special and important your loved one was to you and your family.
According to a study by the Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), the death of a close family member ranks 63 points on the life stressor scale — and the death of a spouse ranks a full 100. Understandably, these catastrophic events leave you at loose ends.
There’s no need for you to handle this alone. This is the opportune moment to turn to an experienced Utah wrongful death lawyer at Good Guys Injury Law to help you procure the financial compensation that you deserve after your loved one’s death due to someone else’s negligence.
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How a Salt Lake City Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help Your Family
After your loved one’s death, a Utah wrongful death attorney can help you by filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of you and the decedent’s other heirs. When we at Good Guys Injury Law file wrongful death cases for our clients, we handle all communication with the defendant’s insurance company so you can avoid reliving the distressing experience of your loved one’s death over and over.
Moreover, we can identify each defendant who may share liability for your relative’s demise. That can potentially increase any compensation the surviving family members may recover, as some defendants may have deeper pockets than others.
When we file a wrongful death action, our legal team has the privilege of possessing access to some of the top expert witnesses across a wide spectrum of industries. From doctors and financial analysts to accident reconstruction experts, these professionals help us illustrate aspects of your case.
Whether it occurred due to a car accident or some other adverse event,the legal team at Good Guys Injury Law can help make you whole again after the sudden demise of your loved one.
Determining Whether a Wrongful Death Claim Can Be Filed
All fatal accidents will not rise to the legal standards of a wrongful death claim. Indeed, most deaths do not meet the standards of wrongful death. But one should not assume that they do not have a viable wrongful death case without first discussing the specific circumstances with a Salt Lake City wrongful death lawyer.
Below are guidelines that can help you determine whether your spouse or family member’s loss of life could generate a wrongful death suit.
- Did someone else’s negligence or cruel intent cause the death?
Wrongful death cases deal with situations where the deceased person met their demise at the hands of another person through that person’s negligence or cruel intentions. These cases frequently result in criminal charges, but a conviction is not necessary to pursue wrongful death claims because these are civil procedures where the burden of proof for reasonable doubt is far lower.
- Have you suffered losses and financial burdens because of your loved one’s sudden demise?
If you depend on the deceased victim for financial support, their loss will be felt severely because you can no longer rely on their earnings to support yourself and any dependents. Filing a wrongful death claim allows you to seek compensation for the surviving family members from the responsible party who caused your relative’s fatal injury and subsequent death.
Proceeds from negotiated settlements and court judgments can sometimes include punitive damages. Plaintiffs can seek financial compensation for lost wages, future wages, the suffering endured by the accident victims, medical expenses incurred before their family members passed, and burial expenses.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death in Salt Lake City
Most wrongful death claims arise from the same types of situations that generate many personal injury cases, including the following categories:
- Pedestrian accidents
- Rideshare accidents
- Car wrecks
- Boating mishaps
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle crashes
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Truck accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Fatal falls
- Spinal cord injuries
- Bus crashes
- Construction accidents
The aforementioned list does not encompass every conceivable circumstance that may generate a winnable wrongful death case. If you are unsure about your own claim status, a Salt Lake City UT wrongful death lawyer can provide guidance and advice.
People Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Here in Utah, wrongful death claims are filed by the court-appointed personal representative of the decedent or any of the decedent’s heirs. A single claim is filed by the personal representative for all legal heirs, including biological and adopted parents and children, spouses, and stepchildren 17 and under who were dependent on their deceased relative.
If there are none of the above, any surviving blood relatives may file a wrongful death claim and the decedent’s legal guardian, including guardians supervising adults.
Steps in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Most Utah wrongful death claims are complex matters to sort out. They require retaining a wrongful death lawyer to negotiate and litigate them. Outlined below are the subsequent steps in the wrongful death lawsuit process.
During our investigation, we seek surveillance footage of the accident or incident and send our investigative team to document the scene and get witness statements.
Filing the Lawsuit
Filing a wrongful death claim is the first step in the civil court process. We only accept wrongful death cases that we feel are compelling and able to withstand the scrutiny of the courtroom. Should the civil case fail to settle, we will file the lawsuit within the statutory time limits of the state of Utah.
As an important component of the discovery process, we will send out interrogatories and requests for the production of documents. We will subpoena phone logs and medical bills and record them. We conduct depositions of the defendants and any witnesses and continue building a strong case against the at-fault party.
A Salt Lake City, UT, wrongful death attorney who knows the true value of a claim will negotiate for fair compensation for their client. Good Guys Injury Law attorneys will fight to get you every penny your case is worth.
Not all wrongful death claims settle through negotiations. We will litigate your case in the Utah civil courts if you don’t get a wrongful death settlement.
The attorney for the at-fault party in a Utah wrongful death case will try to dodge liability for their victim’s death. But we will dismantle their defense and hold their figurative feet to the fire. We’ll seek the highest possible award for wrongful death damages from the insurance company for the negligent party. Remember, you don’t owe a dime unless we win.
Proving Liability in a Wrongful Death Case
Wrongful death cases contain four elements, each of which must be met for wrongful death lawsuits to prevail. The four are listed below.
The Defendant Owed the Deceased a Duty of Care.
A duty of care exists between the drunk driver that caused another person’s death. It existed between the dead patient and the doctor accused of medical malpractice. Each had the duty to act in a reasonably safe manner to avoid a wrongful death case due to their negligent acts.
The Defendant Breached That Duty.
Those that fail to exercise that duty of care toward others are considered to have breached their duty.
The Breach of Duty Caused the Death.
Because of their negligent act, the victim died. The death has to be a direct result of the breach of duty.
You Suffered Damages Due to the Death.
Due to the wrongful death of your spouse or relative, you suffered financial and/or other damages.
Beneficiaries of a Wrongful Death Claim
There typically is an order of beneficiaries who can make a wrongful death claim in wrongful deaths. Spouses are considered first-degree relatives and often are the ones who retain the wrongful death attorney to represent the surviving family members.
Immediate Family Members
When there is no spouse, the victim’s adult or minor biological and adopted children are also first-degree relatives who can seek compensation for their losses. If there are no descendants, the victim’s surviving parents may file.
The decedent’s unrelated financial dependents, i.e., stepchildren under 18, can also be beneficiaries of an insurance company settlement. If they were the guardian of a dependent adult and that person also depended on them financially, they are qualified beneficiaries as well.
Depending on their relationship with the deceased individual, extended family members like siblings could have a cause of action for filing a wrongful death action if they were financially reliant on the victim.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Salt Lake City
Just as with personal injury claims, the statute of limitations regarding wrongful death in Utah is typically two years. Unless the plaintiff was not yet 18 or the circumstances surrounding the death were such that it was not reasonable to learn that a wrongful act caused negligence, the limit stands.
However, if the death involved a government entity or medical malpractice, notice of your claim must be formally filed within a year.
Damages You May Receive Under a Salt Lake City Wrongful Death Claim
Just as with personal injury claims, a wrongful death attorney can seek more than one type of damages after a fatal accident caused your relative’s death.
When calculating a fair settlement offer, all of the below damages may be considered. But in most wrongful death and personal injury cases, only the first two will be applicable.
One way to remember economic damages is whether or not it can be added up on a calculator. Expenses such as medical care rendered to the fatally injured victim’s serious injuries before they passed (e.g., ambulance fees, medical bills, hospital or nursing home charges), and costs of their funeral expenses.
You also need to add your deceased relative’s financial contributions to the household and past, and future lost wages to a wrongful death claim.
Non-economic damages are not as easily quantified as economic damages. A wrongful death lawyer must somehow put a price on the survivors’ mental anguish and suffering. They have to calculate the value of the decedent’s presence in the lives of their loved ones.
These damages are not intended to serve as compensation for survivors. Rather, they are awarded in particularly egregious cases where the defendant was excessively negligent or reckless.
When judges and juries award large sums of punitive damages, it is intended to deter the defendant and others from acting with such reckless disregard or cruel intent. Punitive damages send a strong message to defendants to clean up their acts.
Contact Our Skilled Salt Lake City Wrongful Death Lawyers at Good Guys Injury Law Today
If you lost a loved one due to a liable party’s negligent acts, you should seek legal advice from our skilled and knowledgeable legal team members. At Good Guys Injury Law, our wrongful death and personal injury lawyers offer free consultations that carry no obligation.
We do hope that you will never need our services. We often meet our clients at the worst point of their lives. We are aware that nothing we can do can return your deceased loved one to your home and life. We understand that no sum of money can replace their presence in your life.
Our assurance lies in our unwavering commitment to working our hardest to see you through to a brighter day. We will pursue compensation that will leave you in a better position to move forward in whatever the future holds. Nothing is owed if we don’t recover any funds for you.
You can use our handy online form to reach out to us about your legal matter. Or give us a call at (801) 639-0581 to set up your free consultation with one of our wrongful death attorneys.