When your loved one has died from a Utah wrongful death the experienced personal injury attorneys at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC can help.
"We originally retained a "well known" Sandy, UT law firm for our case and they did NOTHING for us. Big name does not equate to results. Jacob Gunter is different. He is an excellent attorney. We have a very good experience with him. He fought for us and got us a settlement that we deserved even after over two years of our accident. I highly recommend him!. Don't believe the ad you see on TV that they will take care of you in just one call, go to Jacob Gunter. He will definitely take care of you like he took care of us." (Original Google Review in 06/2017)
November 17, 2017Read More Testimonials
PROVO/OREM UTAH WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYERS
When your loved one has died through no fault of their own, the Provo/Orem, Utah wrongful death attorneys at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC can help. Our attorneys offer a free, no risk and no obligation consultation regarding your wrongful death injury case.CONTACT NOW
HERE IS HOW OUR WRONGFUL DEATH LAW FIRM CAN HELP YOU:
(1). 67 Years of Experience. Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC has been around since 1950 and is here to stay. With 10 current attorneys, the wrongful death attorneys at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC have a combined experience of well over 100 years.
(2). Size Matters. When pursuing a Utah wrongful death claim, the largest insurance defense law firms will be hired by the insurance company. Having a large law firm capable of responding and fighting for your legal case matters. Smaller wrongful death firms will not have financial ability to hire the best expert witnesses or the capacity to reach a fair and adequate settlement for your wrongful death case.
(3). Trial Experience. Not all lawyers are created equal. Not all personal injury lawyers file lawsuits and try wrongful death personal injury matters to a jury verdict. Jury trial experience is harder and harder to get in these days of mediation and arbitration.
(4). Prove Damages. The wrongful death lawyers at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC help gather evidence, collect your medical bills and ensure that your legal damages are proven in a court of law. We gather the medical records, the medical bills. We order the police report, any witness statements and dash cam video. We hire expert witnesses to prove up lost income streams and economists to prove the current value of lost future income streams for the jury’s consideration. A good Utah personal injury attorney will carry these costs for you, until your heirs receive compensation.
(5). Interact with the Insurance Company. Hiring a Utah wrongful death attorney will alleviate your pain in dealing with the at-fault insurance company. Hiring a personal injury attorney immediately puts the leg work in the hands of the attorney, not the grieving party.
(6). Guide you through the Process. The world of insurance is a maze. If you are encountering the insurance world for the first time, it will be overwhelming. Hiring a wrongful death attorney who regularly and consistently deals with insurance companies, insurance adjusters and personal injury claims will alleviate this stress.
The wrongful death attorneys at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC have real, jury trial experience, representing real people injured through no fault of their own. You do not want to have a rookie attorney in the courtroom on your side when the stakes are so high.
WHAT TO DO NEXT IN YOUR UTAH WRONGFUL DEATH CASE
FIRST. Grieve, Plan the funeral and Contact the Insurance Company. You will need to secure a death certificate and begin planning the funeral and burial arrangements. You should contact any applicable insurance company and report the incidents. You have a duty to report any wrongful death to your own car or homeowner’s insurance when an incident occurs. This is called a “duty to cooperate.” Be careful not to elaborate about the incident and you should advise them that you will be hiring a wrongful death attorney who will provide them all the details at that time.
Car Insurance. Personal Injury Protection Benefits. If the wrongful death occurre
d as a result of a Utah car accident, you should apply to your own car insurance for Personal Injury Protection Benefits (“PIP”). In every single Utah issued car policy of insurance, there are funeral expense benefits available in the case of a wrongful death.
Utah PIP benefits will pay for a funeral, burial, or cremation benefits not to exceed a total of $1,500 per person; and compensation on account of death of a person, payable to the person’s heirs, in the total of $3,000. Additionally, the medical bills incurred from the wrongful death are paid up to $3,000.
Your wrongful death attorney will help you apply for these no-fault benefits.
SECOND. Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney. After the dust settles, you should contact an experienced Utah wrongful death attorney. When catastrophic injuries occur, you should be allowed to mourn and not be worried about insurance companies, insurance adjusters and medical bills. Let our wrongful death attorney interact with the insurance companies on your behalf. You should not be worried about evidence preservation, witness interviews or the host of other immediate legal needs when a wrongful death occurs.
Ensure that you feel comfortable with the personal injury attorney that you find.
THIRD. Open a Probate Estate. Your wrongful death attorney should open a Utah probate case to prepare for administrating the wrongful death proceedings. A personal representative will need to be appointed to administer the wrongful death settlement proceeds to the decedent’s heirs. Opening a probate estate is required.
When a person dies from the legal fault of another, that wrongful death claim does not go away upon the person’s death. The wrongful death claim is transferred to the estate of the deceased person, for the benefit of decedent’s heirs. Additionally, you cannot sue in the name of a deceased person, you must open a probate estate and appoint a personal representative to prosecute the wrongful death claim on behalf of, and for the benefit of all the heirs.
What Types of Accidents are Considered Wrongful Deaths?
The general rule is that the death must have occurred from the fault of someone else. Here are some common wrongful death occurrences.
(1). Utah car accidents.
(2). Interstate trucking, 18 wheeler accidents.
(4). Boating accidents.
(5). Defective products.
(6). Industrial accidents.
(7). Work accidents.
(8). Medical malpractice.
(9). Motorcycle accidents.
(10). Pedestrian accidents.
(11). ATV accidents.
Who is an Heir in Utah Wrongful Death Cases?
Heirs for wrongful death purposes are defined by Utah law at Utah Code Ann. 78B-3-105 (2017). This statute defines heirs as follows:
(1) the following surviving persons:
(a) the decedent’s spouse;
(b) the decedent’s children
- c) the decedent’s natural parents, or if the decedent was adopted, then his adoptive parents;
(d) the decedent’s stepchildren who: (i) are in their minority at the time of decedent’s death; and,
(ii) are primarily financially dependent on the decedent.
Only one lawsuit can be brought on behalf of all the heirs in a Utah wrongful death lawsuit. There is no benefit of racing to the courthouse to file first amongst your relatives because any wrongful death settlement will need court approval.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlement Proceeds Distributed Between the Heirs?
Once a wrongful death settlement is negotiated or a jury verdict has been rendered, the legal heirs can either agree to a distribution, or they can litigate it. If the heirs cannot reach a distribution agreement, then they will have to litigate it and ask a judge to decide which heir gets how much of the Utah wrongful death settlement.
Utah courts will take the following into consideration when distributing a wrongful death settlement to the legal heirs of the deceased.
- Each heir’s loss will be independently assessed by the judge.
- How much financial support has been lost by each heir?
- How much loss of affection has been lost by each heir?
- How much counsel and advice to each heir is now gone?
- Was the deceased a caregiver to their particular heir?
- Is the heir a child whose will lose substantial society, love, companionship, protection and affection?
WHAT TYPE OF WRONGFUL DEATH DAMAGES ARE AVAILABLE TO THE HEIRS?
When your loved one dies as a result of a Utah wrongful death, the following are the possible types of damages available, depending on the facts of the case and insurance policies insuring the at-fault party:
(1). General Damages. Pain, suffering, etc.
(2). Medical Bill. Bills incurred at the emergency room. Ambulance bills. Medical physician’s bills. Radiologist bills. Mileage. Surgery bills.
(3). Funeral Expenses.
(4). Punitive Damages.
(5). Lost Earning Potential. Lost future earnings in a wrongful death case can be enormous. When a young person dies the future income stream that is lost upon their death needs to be calculated and projected into the future for the jury to understand and compensate for.
(6). Loss of Companionship. When a spouse dies the other spouse has a claim for lost companionship. Utah has codified in the Utah Code at 30-2-11 (2017). This right extends to family members and the spouse.
How Much Compensation can be Obtained in a Wrongful Death Case?
The amount of compensation available in a wrongful death case is dependent on the ability of the at-fault party to pay. The at-fault party is usually insured by a liability policy of insurance covering accidents. For example, all cars on Utah’s roadways must have mandatory car insurance. When a Utah car accident causes a wrongful death, the insurance company insuring the at-fault car driver will have at least $25,000 of insurance proceeds available. Many people have more car insurance than the Utah State minimum car insurance levels. Utah’s car insurance levels are $25,000 per person, up to $65,000 maximum per incident, regardless of how many people are hurt. The car insurance levels then go up from there to 50/100, 250/500 and umbrella policies.
18 Wheeler trucking accidents will always have higher commercial policies of insurance covering these big rigs. The insurance policies covering trucks generally start at 1 million dollars. Products liability cases or defective pharmaceutical drugs will have very large amounts of insurance covering accidents where defective designs hurt the public.
If the personal representative can’t reach a settlement with the at-fault insurance company, ultimately the jury will decide how much compensation is needed for the wrongful death.
Utah Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations.
Utah wrongful death cases have shorter statute of limitations than car accidents or slip and falls. Every Utah wrongful death case handled by a Utah personal injury attorney needs to be carefully analyzed to avoid missing the applicable statute of limitations. Minor children, mentally disabled and government wrongful death claims all have slightly different statute of limitations that apply.
A statute of limitation is a deadline in which the Utah wrongful death case needs to resolved or needs to be filed with the court. If you do not file a wrongful death lawsuit with the court before your statute of limitations runs, the heirs will be forever barred from recovering anything against the at-fault party and their insuring insurance company.
DO I NEED TO PAY THE ATTORNEY UP FRONT TO HANDLE MY UTAH WRONGFUL DEATH CASE?
The attorneys at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC handle wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. The client in a wrongful death case does not have to pay any attorney fees up front, and does not have to pay for any expert witnesses up front to prosecute the wrongful death case.
When a jury verdict or wrongful death settlement is approved by the court, the attorneys then receive payment for their legal services out of the wrongful death proceeds. Additionally, the attorney may front tens of thousands of dollars in expert witnesses and case preparation, carrying these costs for years. These costs are also reimbursed from the wrongful death proceeds.
UTAH WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEYS CONTACT NOW
When tragedy strikes and your loved one dies through no fault of their own, contact the Utah wrongful death attorneys at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC for a free no obligation, no costs, free consultation. (801) 373-6345.