What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Cases that fall under the category of “wrongful death” are very similar to those that fall under the category of “personal injury.” The difference is that the victim of a personal injury case can bring their own case to court. The victim in a wrongful death case cannot.
The state of Utah, in Utah Code section 78B-3-106 classifies wrongful deaths as those that are the direct result of a “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another involved party. This party doesn’t necessarily have to be an individual. It can also be a group or an organization.
Because the victim of a wrongful death lawsuit is unable to file their own claims, someone else does it for them. This is typically the heir that inherits the deceased person’s estate, such as a spouse, child, or parent.
There are laws in place that prevent just anyone from filing a wrongful death claim. Only those relationships listed above, as well as stepchildren and adoptive parents, or other blood relatives if they stand to inherit something from the deceased, are able to file a claim. A wrongful death attorney can help the surviving family better understand who is eligible to file a lawsuit.
What Types of Cases Fall Under the Category of Wrongful Death?
Wrongful deaths are any that are the direct result of another person or party’s negligence or a wrongful act. But what types of cases does that definition describe?
Some of the most common causes behind wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents (including delivery trucks and semi-trucks)
- Product liability, in which a defective product causes an accidental death
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace deaths
- Liability cases, such as an individual falling on another person or business’ property
- Dog attacks
If an individual dies as a result of the above accidents or other similar incidents, their surviving family members can file a case, with the help of a wrongful death attorney. This type of lawsuit aims to not only seek justice for the death but also to give the family financial compensation.
What Types of Damages are Included?
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is a way for the family of the deceased to seek justice, beyond any charges against the person responsible for the accident. However, it’s also a chance to get financial compensation for their loved one’s death.
There are a variety of types of damages that the surviving heirs can seek in a wrongful death claim. These include:
- Medical expenses related to the victim’s injury or illness that lead to their death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost wages that the deceased would have earned and that would have benefited the surviving heirs
- Pain and suffering that the surviving family members have experienced
- Loss of the companionship of the deceased (this can apply to surviving spouses or parents)
- Loss of guidance and care (this applies to the care and guidance that the deceased would have provided to his or her children or stepchildren, or to their spouse)
- Punitive damages
How Much is a Settlement Worth in Utah?
Just as with personal injury cases, each wrongful death case is unique. For that reason, each wrongful death lawsuit will be unique in the damages that it is seeking.
For instance, one case may include the cost of medical expenses that an individual incurred prior to their death. But another wrongful death lawsuit may not need to include these if there were no medical expenses incurred. The death of a young parent may command a higher dollar amount for loss of companionship and guidance than the death of an older adult with no children or no spouse.
Calculating how much a wrongful death settlement is worth in Utah comes down to the details of each individual case. It also depends on your choice of wrongful death attorney. An experienced lawyer will be better prepared to build a case that shows why the heir of the victim deserves more than what insurance companies are currently offering.
When to Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney
If someone that you love has died because of someone else’s negligence, or the negligence of a business, you deserve justice, as well as compensation. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can help you get it. However, filing on your own, without legal help, is a big mistake.
Unless you have legal experience, filing your own wrongful death lawsuit is complicated, confusing, and incredibly difficult. You’ll be left to navigate the legal process and its many rules and regulations. You’ll also have to go face-to-face with the legal representation that the person or party responsible hires.
Instead, you need the help of a wrongful death attorney. Their experience, skills, and knowledge will be key to building a strong case and presenting it in court.
It’s often emotional and painful to face off against the person responsible for your loved one’s death. But with the help of a wrongful death attorney, you can not only get the compensation that you deserve but also get some measure of justice for your loved one.
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