Six Types of Wrongful Death

Posted by Randy Andrus | Oct 05, 2021

Losing a loved one is painful enough. When your loved one passes as the result of someone else's negligence or intentional act the pain is even more difficult to comprehend. This situation is the basis of a wrongful death suit, and, unfortunately, it's more common than most of us realize. From car accidents to negligent security to medical malpractice, in this blog, we'll discuss the most common causes of wrongful death in Utah

If your loved one has been a victim of someone else's negligence or intentional wrongful act, which resulted in their death, call our wrongful death lawyer at Andrus Law Firm today. We are ready to answer any questions you have and help you get the justice your family member deserves. Call us at 801-535-4645, or fill out our convenient, confidential online contact form, and we'll reach out to you. 

Car Accidents 

Car accidents are among the most common causes of wrongful death. When the average person thinks about wrongful death, they likely envision a car accident caused by a reckless or negligent driver. While reckless drivers do cause accidents that result in wrongful death claims, these fatal incidents may happen for other reasons, such as:

  • Unmaintained roads
  • Construction accidents
  • Defective vehicles
  • Drowsy driving 
  • Roadway problems
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2019, there were 33,244 fatal car accidents in the United States with 36,096 total deaths reported. If your loved one has, tragically, been a part of these recorded numbers, our wrongful death lawyer in Utah can not only help you pay the bills associated with their death, we can also help your loved one get the justice they deserve. 

Semi-Truck Accidents

Another type of accident that contributes to the above IIHS numbers involves commercial trucks. The size of commercial trucks can make these accidents disastrous, and, sadly, many times result in death. Semi-truck accidents are inherently different from regular motor-vehicle accidents for several reasons, including the hefty size of the vehicle involved, the weight of the vehicle and loads attached to it, the potential liability of different associated parties, the long work hours required of the drivers, etc. In wrongful death suits involving big commercial trucks, your lawyer will look at some of the following factors to determine the cause of the accident:

  • Oversized load
  • Speed of the truck
  • Inadequately secured loads
  • Driver error, carelessness, or recklessness
  • Operation of truck while under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • Mechanical failures
  • Improper maintenance

Negligent Security

In Utah, property owners have a duty to prevent potential violence on their properties, especially if there is a history of violent activity in the area. When reasonable security measures are not taken to prevent such activity, a property owner may be held liable. If the preventable and foreseeable event results in death, a wrongful death claim may be filed against the property owner.  

Some examples of places where negligent security may be fatal are:

  • Parking lots and garages 
  • Gas stations and convenience stores
  • Hotels and motels
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Apartment complexes
  • Restaurants
  • Shopping centers and malls
  • Banks
  • Nursing homes
  • Schools
  • Office buildings
  • Stadiums and sporting arenas
  • Places of worship
  • Hospitals

Some types of negligent security include the absence of security cameras, lack of proper lighting, failure to repair broken locks, failure to hire an appropriate number of security guards, negligently distributing multiple keys to shared spaces, etc.  

In Utah, the property owner's obligation depends on the legal status of the injured visitor. A person's visitor status may impact his or her case. There are three main types of visitors:

  1. Invitee - Someone who has been invited to the property by the owner. For example, a customer in a store is considered an “invitee.”
  2. Licensee - Someone who enters the property by his or her own choice and with the property owner's consent.
  3. Trespasser - Enters the property without the right to do so.

Medical Malpractice

We go to doctors to make us better. However, sometimes, the opposite happens. In the worst cases of medical malpractice, wrongful death occurs. In fact, medical negligence is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Wrongful death due to medical negligence may happen when a medical professional fails to follow proper procedure or cuts corners. Some examples of medical malpractice are:

  • Birth injuries
  • Surgery performed on the wrong site and other surgical errors
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Delayed or improper treatment
  • Defective medical devices
  • Improper dosages

Many states cap the amount of legal compensation you can receive in a medical malpractice case, however, Utah does not cap economic damages (financial damages that may include medical bills, loss of income, etc). Utah does cap non-economic damages (non-monetary damages that may include emotional trauma, PTSD, etc) at $450,000. Utah Code § 78B-3-410.

Workplace Accidents 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Utah Labor Commission require employers to keep their employees safe while they are at work. Utah Code § 34A-6-101. Even though there are clear standards, accidents and negligence still happen. According to OSHA, 5,333 workers died on the job in 2019. Some examples of deadly workplace accidents, across several industries, are:

  • Manufacturing and machinery accidents
  • Transportation accidents
  • Asbestos and Mesothelioma
  • Railroad worker injuries
  • Boat and barge accident injuries
  • Construction site accidents

In many cases, workers' compensation allows family members to collect death benefits to pay for funeral expenses. However, in some situations, the family may sue the employer for negligence and even intentional conduct. If you collect workers' compensation death benefits, you may not be allowed to sue the employer for negligence. While workers' compensation benefits may pay for funeral costs, families may not be compensated for intangible losses incurred, like loss of companionship, emotional trauma, pain and suffering, etc.  

Defective Products

A product manufacturer is liable in the event that a person dies because of a defective product. This potential liability is one reason many companies spend a lot of time and money in product testing, ensuring that products are safe for consumers. Despite this, sometimes faulty products are released to the public, resulting in consumer injury. Some examples of defect type and associated high-profile cases over the years are:

  • Defective pharmaceutical products - Zantac cancer lawsuit (2019), Merck's painkiller lawsuit (2006), 
  • Defective or unsafe-for-children products - Fisher-Price infant gliders recall (2019), Peloton's Tread+ lawsuit (2021)
  • Harmful or toxic household products - Monsanto Roundup cancer lawsuit (2018), Johnson & Johnson talc products (2018)
  • Defective automobile products - Takata airbags (2017), Ford's Pinto fuel tank issue (1970s), Toyota's “sticky” accelerator (2010)

Do I Have a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If your loved one has been a victim of someone else's negligence or intentional harmful action that resulted in their death, your loved one may have a wrongful death claim. For more information, give our wrongful death lawyer at Andrus Law Firm a call today at 801-535-4645. You can also set up a consultation by filling out our confidential online form.

About the Author

Randy Andrus

BIO   Education University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (LL.M. 1987) Business and Taxation – Transnational Practice Courses and International Bar Association Convention, Salzburg, Austria Southwestern University School of Law (J.D. 1984) Dean's List American Jurisprudence...

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