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Wrongful Death Attorney in Utah

My first experience with wrongful death came at age 12 when my father died in a car accident. My father was a passenger in the front seat when the driver fell asleep crossing lanes of traffic and striking another car head on. My mother, who had not worked in years and did not have a driver’s license, was left with six children under the age of 14.

My mother hired a wrongful death attorney who brought a claim against the driver, a close family friend. The resulting settlement made news as it was one of the largest wrongful death settlements in the state at that time. The settlement funds that our wrongful death attorney got us, helped our small family to survive.

It may have been this experience which inspired me to become a wrongful death attorney in Utah. Since that time, as a wrongful death attorney in Utah, I have handled a number of wrongful death claims– some high profile, some not. As a wrongful death attorney in Utah, I guarantee to devote my time on your case, ensuring everything is done to help you and your family, that is within my power.

Losing your loved one is a crushing blow. One of the most painful times of your life.

The law cannot replace your loved one. The only “remedy” the law can give you is what judges call “damages” which is monetary compensation.

A thorough knowledge of wrongful death principles and the facts of the case can help to make sure that justice, though imperfect, is the maximum the law allows. This can bring you a feeling that justice has been achieved.

Death Of Adult Versus Death Of Minor Child

In terms of who may file the claim and the damage elements that are available, the law distinguishes between wrongful death of an adult and wrongful death of a child.

Who May File Claim For The Wrongful Death Of An Adult?

A claim for wrongful death of an adult may be filed by heirs. Heirs include the surviving spouse, children and parents.

What Are the Elements of Compensation for the Wrongful Death of an Adult?

The basic principle of law in wrongful death cases is that such damages may be given as, under all the circumstances of the case, are just. For an adult killed in a wrongful death accident the survivors may claim damages for:

  • loss of financial support;
  • loss of love, companionship, society, comfort, care, protection and affection;
  • loss or reduction of inheritance;
  • loss of assistance or benefit that the surviving claimant would likely have received had the decedent lived;
  • the decedent's medical expenses resulting from the event causing the death;
  • damage to or destruction of the decedent's personal property.

Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer: Settlement for an Adult Decedent

The age, health and life expectancy of the decedent is a factor in determining the amount of the settlement or verdict but pain or suffering of decedent prior to his death is not.

Survivors may recover funeral and burial expenses only if the decedent left no money.

Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer Explains: Who May File Claim For Wrongful Death of a Child

A lawsuit for the death of a minor child may be filed by a parent or guardian of the minor child. If a parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, or legal guardian is the alleged defendant then a “guardian ad litem” may be appointed to file the wrongful death lawsuit.

Note: a “guardian ad litem” is a special guardian appointed by a court to file a lawsuit.

Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer: Expectations For A Child Decedent

Those damages which are considered just and which the survivor of a minor child killed in a wrongful death accident may claim include:

  • loss of financial support, past and future, that the parent or guardian would likely have received from the minor child had the minor child lived. This amount should be reduced by the costs that the parent or guardian would likely have incurred to support the minor child, had the child survived, until the child reached 18 years of age;
  • loss of love, companionship, society, comfort, care, protection and affection;
  • loss of inheritance from the minor child that the parent or guardian is likely to suffer;
  • loss of assistance or benefit that the parent or guardian would likely have received had the minor child lived;
  • reasonable and necessary expenses incurred by the parent or guardian for the minor child for any medical care because of the circumstances that caused the death;
  • reasonable expenses that were incurred for the minor child’s funeral and burial.

Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer: Settlement for a Child Decedent

Pain and suffering of the child before death is not a factor in a wrongful death claim filed by survivors of a minor.

Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer Answers: What If The Decedent Was Partly At Fault?

If the decedent was partly at fault, this fault will reduce the value of the claim. If the decedent’s fault was less than 50% then the amount of the award is reduced by that percentage. However, if the decedent was 50% or more at fault then the survivors get nothing.

If the child is a decedent his fault does not always reduce the award. It depends on the age of the child.

Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer: What If The Decedent Is Injured But Does Not Die Immediately?

If time passed between the injury and death there is a “survival claim” for economic and non-economic damages during the time the decedent lived after his injury.

This is for cases where the death is caused by the injury. If a person is injured but later dies of other causes a claim may be made for economic damages caused by the injury but not for non economic damages such as pain and suffering. So, a person may be injured and suffer but if he dies from other causes before he settles his case his survivors cannot recover money for his pain and suffering.

Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer: Wrongful Death Statute Of Limitations

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim differs from the statute for other negligence claims such as car accident. In Utah the statute of limitations for car crashes is four years but for wrongful death claims it is two years.

Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer: Conclusion

A claim for the wrongful death of an adult may be filed by a surviving child, spouse or parent. A claim for the death of a minor child may be filed by a parent or guardian.

Fault of the decedent reduces the value of the claim and, depending on the extent of the fault, can completely bar the right of the survivor to recover monetary compensation.

The time limitation for filing suit on wrongful death claims differs from that of other injury lawsuits. In Utah the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years.

 
 
 

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