If You've Lost A Family Member Because Of The Negligence Of Another You Need To File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit To Collect Damages

west jordan wrongful death attorney

In a wrongful death, the negligence of another person or a company has caused fatal harm. The family of the deceased person needs a way to determine what happened and pursue compensation and support as they grieve their loss. You are not alone. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit with the help of the experienced Utah accident attorneys at the Kramer Law Group can help a family achieve these goals.

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How We Help Families of Wrongful Death Victims

One way to think of a wrongful death claim is like a personal injury lawsuit in which the injured person can no longer sue on his or her own behalf. Instead, the family brings the claim to court in order to recover compensation for items like medical bills, property damage, funeral and burial costs, and the loss of their loved one’s care, companionship, guidance, and support.

The attorneys at the Kramer Law Group handle each wrongful death claim with the legal knowledge and rigorous approach these cases deserve. We listen carefully to your story, and we talk to witnesses and gather records and reports that establish what happened. When needed, we consult with experts who can shed light on the case and establish the connection between someone else’s wrongful acts and your loved one’s death.

If a criminal case is underway that relates to the death, we monitor that case closely for information and evidence that can help support the wrongful death claim.

Then, we stand beside you – and stand up for your rights – in settlement negotiations, at mediation, and at trial to provide you with the strongest possible chance of securing the full compensation your family deserves. We have extensive experience representing the families of those who have suffered fatal injuries. Over the years, our attorneys have collected a deep reservoir of knowledge about the complexities of Utah’s wrongful death laws. From understanding the time limits for filing a wrongful death claim to building a clear picture of the financial losses the family has suffered, the team at the Kramer Law Group has seen it all – and we’re willing to put all our experience to work for you.

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Utah’s Wrongful Death Law – The Basics

Utah’s wrongful death law defines a wrongful death as a death caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another party. A wrongful death might be accidental or intentional.

Common situations that might give rise to a wrongful death claim include examples such as:

  • Exposure to harmful chemicals or hazardous conditions on the job.
  • Medical malpractice, negligence, or medical errors.
  • Criminal assault that causes death, such as robbery or an attack with a deadly weapon.
  • Car, bus, train, or airplane accidents.
  • A death during a supervised activity, such as when an athlete dies on the court or field.

A wrongful death claim can be filed against an individual person, company, or a government entity. Your attorney can help you determine where to file the claim and against whom. Wrongful death claims can be brought to court even if a criminal case is underway or has been resolved.

Damages Available in a Utah Wrongful Death Claim

In a wrongful death case, damages are intended to compensate the deceased person’s family and estate for the financial losses caused by the untimely death. In Utah, a successful wrongful death case can recover money damages for losses such as:

  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Medical expenses related to the deceased person’s final injury or illness.
  • Lost wages, including the value of wages and benefits the deceased person would likely have earned in the future, if he or she had lived.
  • Lost value of household services the deceased person would still be performing if he or she had lived, like cleaning, cooking, childcare, yard work, or vehicle repair.
  • Pain and suffering endured by the deceased person in the moments before death.
  • The loss of the deceased person’s care, companionship, guidance, and moral and emotional support for the family members who are left behind.
  • Punitive damages (in rare cases).

Some of these damages, like payments for medical bills and funeral costs, are typically paid to the estate, which then divides them among the family members. Damages for losses that family members suffered directly, like the loss of their loved one’s care and support, may not go through the estate.

Most of these damages focus on repaying the estate or the family for economic losses caused by the untimely death. Punitive damages are different. Although punitive damages are paid to the estate or the surviving family members, they are not intended to compensate the family for its loss. Instead, they are intended to punish intentional or reckless misbehavior that led to the death. They send a message that the behavior that caused the harm will not be tolerated by the courts. As a result, punitive damages are not available in most cases – only those where the act that caused death was intentional or egregiously reckless or intentional.

Who Can Recover in a Utah Wrongful Death Claim

Utah allows several different parties to bring a wrongful death claim to court. The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased person was an adult under legal guardianship, the person’s legal guardian may also file the claim.

The following family members can also file a wrongful death claim in Utah:

  • The surviving spouse.
  • Any surviving adult child.
  • Any surviving parent, including an adoptive parent or a non-custodial parent.
  • Any surviving stepchildren who are under age 18 at the time of the death and were financially dependent on the deceased person.
  • Other blood relatives who can inherit if the deceased person had no will.

Not all family members are required to file the same lawsuit. The Utah Supreme Court has allowed some family members to file their own claims, if an initial claim was filed before they were aware of it and before they had time to intervene. This option gives surviving family some flexibility in seeking wrongful death compensation, although it is best to speak to an experienced lawyer to determine exactly how best to proceed in your particular circumstances.

In some Utah wrongful death cases, the family member who brings the claim to court is called the “presumptive personal representative.” This is because the court presumes that the family member who files the wrongful death claim is also acting as the deceased person’s personal representative. However, this does not have to be the case. Any listed family member can file the wrongful death claim even if they are not the personal representative of the estate, and the personal representative can file the wrongful death claim even if they are not a listed family member.

The death of a family member is a life-changing event, but you are not alone. With help from the Kramer Law Group, you can get help and protect your legal rights. Contact the Kramer Law Group today for a free and confidential consultation by calling 801-666-3959.

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