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Wrongful Death

Utah Wrongful Death Claim

Suddenly losing a loved one is a tragedy. It is a fear that many of us face. We all will experience the loss of someone we care deeply about in our lifetime. When our family member is taken from us because of the negligence of another, however, it is often even more difficult to navigate feelings of grief, anger, and confusion.

If you have lost a loved one because another person or entity was negligent, you need legal representation immediately. Shane Gosdis and the attorneys at Gosdis Law have years of experience helping families put their lives back together after tragic losses. We have been compassionately helping the families of wrongful death victims for many years across Utah.

We are Utah’s top personal injury law firm. Located in the heart of Salt Lake City, you can find us on State Street in Murray, Utah. We are available to our clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you think that you have a wrongful death claim, call or text our office at 385-429-9960 or schedule a free consultation on-line.

To learn more about wrongful death claims, please continue reading.

WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH?

A wrongful death claim exists when a person is killed because of the actions or inactions of another person or entity. The law allows the family or heirs of the deceased to recover monetarily for the loss of their loved one. Many factors go into a wrongful death claim award, including some of those outlined in more detail below.

UTAH WRONGFUL DEATH LAW

Every state has its own wrongful death statutes. In Utah, the following qualify as wrongful deaths:

  1. Another person or entity acts negligently or is negligent by not acting
  2. An intentional act causes the victim’s death
  3. A doctor, nurse, or other medical professional commits medical malpractice

Keep in mind that wrongful death is a civil wrongdoing. It is a negligence action. In common law, a case of negligence is proven by a victim if they prove four elements. The elements of negligence are:

1. Duty – A plaintiff must prove that the defendant has a duty to them. A duty is created by law or by fact. For example, if a person is in a special relationship with the defendant, the defendant owes them a duty to exercise reasonable care towards the plaintiff. An example of a special relationship is between a customer and a store owner. A store owner owes a duty to their customers to keep the grounds safe from dangers. If a store owner or any other defendant that owes a duty to another fails to perform the duty owed may be liable for negligence.

2. Breach – A defendant that fails to satisfy the duty owed to a plaintiff; they have breached that duty. The breach is the second element of negligence. All elements of negligence must be proven for a plaintiff to recover for negligence. If a defendant acted unreasonably but did not owe the plaintiff a duty, then there will not be any recovery for negligence.

3. Causation – The defendant must be the cause of the plaintiff’s harm. It is possible for a person to die while on another person’s property without the owner being the cause of the person’s death. There must be a causal connection between the action or inaction of the defendant and the death of the victim. If a plaintiff cannot prove that the defendant’s action or inaction is the cause of the victim’s wrongful death, the plaintiff will not recover for the wrongful death action.

4. Damages – There must be damages in a negligence case. Each element must be proven in a negligence case, including damages. You may know that civil suits are usually about “making the person whole” or putting the person back in the position they were in before the accident occurred. In a wrongful death case, there is no way that a person can be put back in the place they were in before the accident.

However, in these kinds of cases, the deceased’s family is the plaintiff, and it is possible to try to put the family back in the position they were in before their loved one was killed. Working with an experienced wrongful death attorney will help you know what your damages are. At Gosdis Law, you will work with an experienced and talented attorney that will help you understand what you are entitled to recover in a wrongful death case.

If you lost a loved one in a wrongful death case, call or text Gosdis Law today at 385-429-9960. Under the leadership of Shane Gosdis, this law firm a top personal injury law firm in Salt Lake City. We are located in the heart of Salt Lake City valley on State Street in Murray, Utah and serve personal injury clients across Utah. We want to help you get back on your feet after a tragic loss.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Utah?

Each state has its own laws surrounding wrongful death lawsuits. A significant difference between other personal injury cases and wrongful death claims is not every person who is harmed by the passing of a victim may bring a claim under Utah law. Under Utah law, the following people are allowed to bring a wrongful death case on behalf of a decedent:

  • The deceased person’s spouse
  • The deceased person’s parents, including adoptive parents
  • The deceased person’s children, including adoptive children
  • The deceased person’s stepchildren, if they were minors at the time the deceased passed awy and financial dependent on the deceased

Utah Code § 78B-3-105 (2021).

As you can tell from the above, not even every family member that the victim leaves behind may bring a wrongful death action in Utah. There is very narrow recovery available in wrongful death cases. These groups of people are usually the only groups of people that can recover in a wrongful death case across the country.

WHAT RECOERY IS AVAILABLE IN A WRONGFUL DEATH CASE?

Every injury case is unique, and the kinds of recovery available are different in each case. You need the right attorney on your side to get the required compensation for your injury. At Gosdis Law, we have years and years of experience getting our clients the compensation that they deserve. You can trust our firm to work tirelessly to get your family the monetary compensation that they need to continue life without your loved one.
Examples of the damages a family usually seeks in a wrongful death case include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Pre-death medical expenses
  • Survivor’s emotional distress
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the decedent prior to death
  • Financial loss
  • Loss of services and support
  • Loss of relationship and companionship

Punitive damages are sometimes available. Punitive damages are awarded by the court in rare cases. To receive punitive damages, the court must find that the defendant’s actions were wildly outrageous. The purpose of punitive damages is to deter future conduct.

It can be overwhelming and difficult to get the damages that you and your family deserve after a death caused by another’s negligence. It is important to get the best representation on your side if you lose someone in an accident. At Gosdis Law, we are here to help families get back on their feet after a tragic loss. If you have lost a loved one because of the negligence of another person or entity in Utah, call or the text the experienced injury attorneys at Gosdis Law. We have years and years of experience compassionately representing families in wrongful death cases.

HOW LONG DO HEIRS HAVE TO FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM IN UTAH?

Each state has its own statute of limitations for different types of cases. A statute of limitations is a time limit set by law that gives a plaintiff a set amount of time to file a claim. If a plaintiff fails to file a claim within the set amount of time, the plaintiff can no longer seek legal recovery for damages.

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death case in Utah is two years from the day the victim dies if the lawsuit is against a party that is not a governmental entity. If the defendant is a governmental entity, the plaintiff has one year to sue on a wrongful death claim in Utah.

WHO ARE POTENTIAL DEFENDANTS IN A WRONGFUL DEATH CASE?

Wrongful death cases are negligence cases. Wrongful death can occur at any place where negligence can occur. What follows are examples of injuries that lead to death.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

When most people think of personal injury cases, it is likely that they think of motor vehicle crashes. A motor vehicle accident case is a negligence case, and when it is deadly, it becomes the basis for a wrongful death case. The driver that caused the accident is the defendant. The victim’s family will bring a lawsuit against the driver individually and against their automobile insurance company.

Premises Liability and Products Liability

Premises liability and products liability are areas of the law developed to help protect patrons, social visitors, and customers. Premises liability places a duty on property owners to help prevent accidents from happening while others are on their property or patronizing their business. Products liability places a duty on manufacturers to put safe products onto the market. Both bodies of law require that businesses and property owners pay for injuries if they are found responsible for a plaintiff’s harm. In a premises liability case, the defendants might be the property owner and an employee if the accident occurred in a retail store. In a products liability case, the manufacturer, the individual or the company that designed the product, and the distributor(s) of a defective product are the defendants in most cases.

Medical Providers

The basis of many wrongful death cases is medical malpractice. Doctors, nurses, and other medical providers sometimes make mistakes while treating patients. Unfortunately, sometimes the mistakes of medical providers result in death. In medical malpractice cases, potential defendants include the doctors and staff that provided the treatment and the hospital that employed the medical providers.

Accidents Involving Big Trucks

Truck drivers are involved in many accidents across the country each year. Due to the size of the vehicles that truck drivers operate, the chances of getting into an accident increase. If your loved one is hit and killed in an accident with a commercial truck, the defendants in the lawsuit can include the driver and their employer. In some cases, if there was a manufacturing defect in some part of the truck, the part manufacturer may be included in the case, too.

How Do I Collect My Judgment?

The first step to getting the recovery that you deserve is winning your case, but collecting your judgment may be an uphill battle. A judge or jury may agree with you by finding a defendant or defendants liable for your injuries, but the other party may be unable, and perhaps unwilling, to pay the judgment against them. If a defendant refuses to pay up, there are some ways that a plaintiff can ensure that they are paid the money they are owed. One option is to initiate a collection process, a garnishment, or a lien on the property that will be discharged after the debt is paid. You may need an attorney that is experienced in debt collection to get the money that you will in a settlement.

WHAT ARE SOME DEFENSES TO A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM IN UTAH?

Everyone who is accused of wrongdoing has the right to present a defense. Defendants accused of a negligent act may try to attack the elements of the cause of action to avoid being found liable. A wrongful death case is a negligence action. As discussed above, negligence has four elements, and each element must be proven before a plaintiff can recover compensation in the case. A defendant may choose to attack only one element of the case, and if they can successfully win a wrongful death case, a defendant will win the case. For instance, if death occurred, but the defendant that caused the injury did not owe a duty to the plaintiff, then there will be no recovery in the matter. Similarly, if a defendant owed a duty, breached the duty to the plaintiff, and the victim was injured, but the defendant’s actions are not the cause of the injury, then the defendant will be successful in the wrongful death case.

COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE IN WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS

Another defense to a negligence claim is comparative negligence. In most states, including Utah, comparative negligence is an affirmative defense to a negligence claim. In a comparative negligence jurisdiction, a fact finder (a judge or jury) will decide who is at fault, and if evidence is presented, if the plaintiff is comparatively at fault. For example, a court may find that a defendant is 80 percent at fault for an accident and a plaintiff is 20 percent at fault. If that is the case, the plaintiff’s potential recovery amount is reduced by 20 percent, so if the plaintiff proved $100,000 in damages since they were 20 percent at fault, their recovery is limited to $80,000.

You should never go against any defendant alone. If your loved one was killed because of the negligence of another person or business, call Gosdis Law immediately. Shane Gosdis and the team of attorneys at Gosdis Law are on your side and are committed to working hard to get you the best results possible. Take advantage of our years and years of experience recovering millions of dollars for our clients.

WHAT IS A UTAH WRONGFUL DEATH CASE WORTH?

It is impossible to put a monetary value on your loved one’s life. The memories and life you shared with them are priceless, and your moments cannot be itemized. However, the value of the services they brought to the family should be compensated if they were killed because of negligence.

Knowing what settlement amount to accept is difficult. Your attorney will help you determine your case’s worth. It is the insurance company’s job to settle for cheap. It is your attorney’s job to ensure that your rights are protected and that you get the best outcome possible. Negotiating alone is a terrible idea. Insurance companies can be predators, and they know how to make the company happy by lowballing accident victims. An injury attorney can protect you from that risk. Whether your case is settled before you must file a lawsuit, or if your case goes all the way to trial, the attorneys at Gosdis Law are prepared to help everyone that chooses to have us on their legal team. We want to assist you, too. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Give us a call or visit us online to schedule a free consultation today.

HOW MUCH WILL I PAY MY ATTORNEY IF WIN?

At Gosdis Law, we do not charge our clients unless we recover a settlement on their behalf. Our fee structure is a contingency fee structure. A contingency fee is a payment arrangement that is agreed upon between the attorney and client before the attorney completes any legal work on the client’s behalf. Contingency fee arrangements are advantageous for a client because they do not have to pay a retainer or any other legal fees upfront. A client can pursue the compensation that they deserve without fear that they will be unable to pay an attorney for their services.

During an initial consultation, an attorney and the client will discuss the payment arrangements that the attorney requires. It is important that you understand the terms of your agreement. For example, the attorney may discuss if the firm will front the costs of litigation and be reimbursed after the case is settled or if you will pay for litigation costs yourself. Examples of litigation costs include:

  • Filing fees
  • Depositions transcript fees
  • The cost of paying a court reporter
  • Making exhibits
  • Copies, mailing, and other costs of communication
  • Mediation fees
  • Costs of expert witness preparation and testimony

The amount that your attorney will take as their fee must be agreed to and put into signed writing before the lawyer starts working on your case. It is important that you understand the terms of your agreement before you sign it. During your initial consultation, the attorney you meet with will ensure that you are comfortable with and knowledgeable about the contingency fee arrangement. The attorneys at Gosdis Law pride themselves on honest and open communication with our clients. We understand that to have the best outcome, our clients must be well-informed about every aspect of their case.
If you have an injury claim, give us a call, or visit us online for a free consultation.

CONTACT A UTAH WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEY TODAY

Under the leadership of Shane Gosdis, Gosdis Law is a law firm where our entire focus is on personal injury law. It is all that we do. If you come to our firm with an injury claim, you will get a team totally focused on you and your needs. We are passionate about getting the job done. We are passionate about justice. We are passionate about your case. Shane Gosdis is an ivy league education attorney who has been serving the people of Utah for many years. Gosdis Law is ready to use the unique talent and skills of its team to assist you during a trying time.

 

It is never easy to lose a loved one. Losing them in a tragic accident is even worse. We want you to have compassionate people in your corner that will champion your cause. You will find those people at Gosdis Law. We are available online or by phone to schedule a free consultation. Call or text us today at 385-429-9960.