It's true that no amount of money can erase the pain of losing a loved one, however, there are many practical reasons to pursue a wrongful death claim. One such reason is to help with the financial obligations that the unexpected loss of a loved one may bring. Expenses can pile up rapidly – from medical bills, funeral costs, and potential lost household income. The compounding bills may be standing in the way of your grieving and ultimate healing. If your loved one was lost due to someone else's intentional or negligent act, filing a wrongful death claim can help with your financial recovery. Despite this, some people have preconceived notions, such as who can file a wrongful death suit, or how accidental deaths impact claims, etc. In this article, we'll tackle some of these common myths about wrongful death suits to help you make a better, more informed decision about your next steps.
If you are stuck navigating the complicated and emotionally heavy process of getting your family and life back together after the significant loss of your family member, know that you don't have to keep battling the financial stress that the situation may have brought. Our wrongful death lawyer in Utah can help you understand the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit and answer any questions you may have about the legal remedies that may be available to you and your family.
Myth 1 - Only the Deceased's Spouse or Child Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
This myth is extremely common. Perpetuated by Hollywood and well-meaning, yet ill-informed advice-giving friends and neighbors, many people believe that only a wife, husband, or child can bring a wrongful death claim after the loss of a loved one. This misconception often stops hurting family members from taking legal action, and it's a total myth.
According to Utah law, wrongful death claims and survival actions can be filed by the deceased's heirs or personal representatives. This may include any of the following people:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving children (including adopted children)
- Surviving parents (including adoptive parents)
- Surviving stepchildren if they are under the age of 18 at the time of the deceased's death and are financially dependent on the deceased
In the case that none of the above survive, another blood relative may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Utah Code § 78B-3-105.
Myth 2 - The Life Insurance Benefits Are Enough
Many people believe that if they have life insurance, filing a wrongful death claim is a waste of time. This is false. Despite having life insurance, which is meant to prepare for the unexpected loss of a loved one, it may not be enough to properly recover. Many life insurance policies have fine print designed to provide cause for paying out as little as possible if the time comes. Additionally, life insurance policies may not take into account all monetary losses that a wrongful death may bring, including lost future income and loss of reduction of inheritance. Similarly, life insurance policies don't account for the emotional losses that are often present in wrongful death cases, such as loss of love and companionship, pain and suffering, etc. A life insurance policy limits the amount that you receive to aid your recovery and healing. To understand what legal remedies may be available to you and your family following the loss of a loved one, consult our wrongful death lawyer in Utah today. Randy and the team will outline what's possible and work to give your loved one a voice while fighting to protect your right to financially and emotionally heal.
Myth 3 - It Was an Accident, So I Can't File a Wrongful Death Suit
Contrary to popular belief, the right to file a wrongful death claim has nothing to do with “intent.” Regardless of whether your loved one died as a result of negligence or someone's intentional action, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim. There are several scenarios when a wrongful death suit may apply. Here are a few examples:
- Accidents and Injuries - Sometimes accidents happen with no “intent” to harm or “malice” present. Accidents and injuries can happen because of the negligent or reckless acts of another. Whether the accident happened because of another driver's fault, unmaintained roads, a defective vehicle, construction site hazards, or another reason, disastrous injuries can occur, despite the presence of intent. If negligence contributes to someone's death, a wrongful death claim and survival action may be filed.
- Medical Malpractice - A wrongful death claim may apply when a health care professional or entity causes someone's death due to medically negligent actions or inactions, like surgical errors, incorrect dosages, or delayed or misdiagnosis and treatment. If a patient passes away as a result of medical negligence, the family may file suit against the liable parties.
- Defective Drugs - In the event that a pharmaceutical company fails to provide adequate warning to the Federal Drug Administration and consumers about potentially harmful defects in their drugs, they may be liable for any injuries that happen when their defective drug is administered. Should the patient die from taking the defective drugs, a wrongful death lawyer can help you file a suit against the drug manufacturer.
- Defective Products - Manufacturers have an obligation to provide safe products to consumers. When they violate this duty, failing to identify, warn against, or report a defect in their product, a liability lawsuit can be filed. If a consumer dies from using the defective product that the manufacturer failed to warn them about, a wrongful death suit may be filed.
Myth 4 - I Can't Afford to File a Wrongful Death Suit
Many wrongful death law firms, including Andrus Law Firm, work on a contingency basis, meaning that you will not pay anything upfront. No large lump-sum, out-of-pocket payments will be expected of you. Wrongful death attorney fees are paid once you are awarded a fair and appropriate settlement. Don't let this myth stop you from taking legal action that can help you heal.
Myth 5 - You Should Give Yourself Time to Grieve Before Contacting a Wrongful Death Attorney
You may hesitate to file suit in the midst of all of the other things you are responsible for after the passing of a loved one. On top of funeral arrangements, settling remaining affairs, and getting your life back to being as structured as possible, the last thing you may want to do is file a wrongful death claim. However, time is often of the essence in wrongful death cases. In addition to the statute of limitations that puts a timeline on any legal action you may need to take following the incident, critical evidence may also be more difficult to obtain if you wait.
The best thing to do is consult a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Let the attorney get the process started – he or she will handle the things that need to be addressed quickly, taking them off your plate, while you take the time to grieve and finalize arrangements. Once you feel you have more space to tend to the legal affairs, your wrongful death lawyer will already have the ball rolling, and will be progressing your case.
Call Our Wrongful Death Lawyer at Andrus Law Firm
Deciding to file a wrongful death claim can be emotionally taxing, but know that you're not alone in this. With over 37 years of experience, Randy and his team at Andrus Law Firm are committed to helping you financially and emotionally heal. Our goals are to help give your loved one a voice and to fight to protect your right to heal without financial strain looming over you. To set up an initial consultation, give us a call at 801-535-4645, or you may fill out our secure online form. For more information about wrongful death claims, please see our additional online resources here: