The experience of losing a loved one is already an overwhelming ordeal. When that death occurs due to the negligence, reckless act, or misconduct of another party, the pain can be even more devastating.

In Utah, the legal system provides a means to seek justice and compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. In this article, you’ll understand the essential elements required to prove a wrongful death in Utah and why you may need the assistance of a skilled wrongful death attorney in Utah at Craig Swapp & Associates.

What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?

It’s important to understand what constitutes a wrongful death under the Utah wrongful death statute. Wrongful death is defined as a death caused by the “wrongful act or neglect of another.” This broad definition can include a range of scenarios, from car accidents caused by negligent drivers, medical malpractice, defective products, or even intentional acts like assault.

Wrongful Death Claim

To establish a wrongful death claim in Utah, the plaintiff (usually a family member or representative of the deceased’s estate) must prove certain elements. These include:

  1. Duty of Care: The plaintiff must first establish that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased. This means the defendant was obligated to act (or refrain from acting) in a way that would prevent harm to the deceased. For example, all drivers have a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely and not cause harm to others.
  2. Breach of Duty: Once a duty of care has been established, it must be shown that the defendant breached this duty. This could be through an action (such as reckless driving) or inaction (like a doctor failing to diagnose a condition).
  3. Causation: The breach of duty must have directly resulted in the death. This is often the most challenging aspect to prove, as it requires showing a clear link between the defendant’s action (or inaction) and the death.
  4. Damages: Finally, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they have suffered quantifiable damages due to the death. This can include loss of income, funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship, and mental anguish.

A wrongful death claim is a critical legal recourse that allows the bereaved to seek justice and compensation. Consulting a wrongful death attorney is of the essence in this case.

How Does Utah Wrongful Death Case Work?

A wrongful death case in Utah operates within the guidelines of the state’s wrongful death statute. It commences with the filing of a lawsuit by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate or a close family member. Here’s a broad overview of how a wrongful death case typically works in Utah:

1. Identifying the Plaintiff

The first step in a wrongful death case is identifying who has the legal standing to file a lawsuit. According to Utah law, the following parties can file a wrongful death suit: the deceased’s spouse, adult children, parents, or the personal representative of the deceased’s estate.

2. Filing the Lawsuit

Once the appropriate party has been identified, the lawsuit can be filed. The complaint document will outline the specific allegations and the basis for the lawsuit, including the negligent behavior that led to the death and the damages being sought.

3. Proving the Elements of Wrongful Death

For a successful claim, the plaintiff must prove the following four elements:

  • Duty of care: The defendant owed a legal duty of care to the deceased.
  • Breach of duty: The defendant breached that duty.
  • Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty caused the death.
  • Damages: The death resulted in quantifiable damages.

4. Discovery Process

After the lawsuit is filed, both sides engage in a discovery process, where they exchange information related to the case. This can include documents, witness testimonies, expert reports, etc.

5. Negotiations & Settlement

Often, wrongful death cases are settled before they go to trial. The attorneys for both sides will negotiate a settlement based on the evidence presented. If a settlement is reached, the case concludes.

6. Trial

If a settlement can’t be reached, the case goes to trial, where a judge or jury will hear the evidence and make a determination.

7. Damages Awarded

If the plaintiff prevails, the court will award damages. In Utah, damages can include medical and funeral expenses, loss of income, loss of companionship, and emotional distress.

8. Appeal

If the defendant disagrees with the outcome, they may appeal the decision, initiating a new process in an appellate court.

Throughout this process, having a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney can greatly increase your chances of a successful claim.

Look for the Best Salt Lake City Wrongful Death Attorneys – Better Call Swapp!

While it’s not legally required, having an experienced attorney by your side can be invaluable. Wrongful death cases are often complex, requiring extensive knowledge of Utah’s wrongful death statutes, expert testimony, and rigorous evidence gathering. A wrongful death attorney in Utah can navigate this complex terrain, ensuring you present the strongest case possible and receive the justice and compensation you deserve.

If you believe you have a wrongful death claim in Utah, reach out to Craig Swapp & Associates. Our experts can provide the guidance, advocacy, and support you need during this challenging time.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp