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On March 14, 2017

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE DIES IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR UTAH CAR ACCIDENT CASE?

When either the Defendant-wrongdoer or the injured plaintiff dies as the result of a Utah accident, Utah Code Ann. 78B-3-107 governs the legal case. You can read the full statute at the end of this article.

Here is what you need to know if someone dies during the middle of a Utah car accident case:

(1). Both or One of the Parties Die in the Car Accident.

78B-3-107(1)(a) STATES:

A cause of action arising out of personal injury to a person, or death caused by the wrongful act or negligence of a wrongdoer, does not abate upon the death of the wrongdoer or the injured person. The injured person, or the personal representatives or heirs of the person who died, has a cause of action against the wrongdoer or the personal representatives of the wrongdoer for special and general damages, subject to Subsection (1)(b).

This portion of the statute means that just because the injured person died, that injured person’s estate still has a legal case against the defendant wrongdoer. Just because the injured person died, does not mean the wrongdoer gets a free ride with their obligation to pay compensation to the estate, or loved ones of the injured party who died.

The same goes if the wrongdoer died during a Utah car accident. This just means that the injured party has a claim or legal case against the dead person’s estate for damages.

This situation occurs often in car accident cases where either the at fault driver, or the innocent injured party dies, or both die in the Utah car accident. The injured party’s claim for compensation survives regardless of which party died in the car accident.

(2). Injured Party Dies from Unrelated Causes Within Six Months of the Car Accident.

78B-3-107(1)(b) STATES

If, prior to judgment or settlement, the injured person dies as a result of a cause other than the injury received as a result of the wrongful act or negligence of the wrongdoer, the personal representatives or heirs of the person have a cause of action against the wrongdoer or personal representatives of the wrongdoer for special and general damages which resulted from the injury caused by the wrongdoer and which occurred prior to death of the injured party from the unrelated cause.
This section specifically truncates the damages available to the estate of an injured party to all damage that occurred prior to the death of the injured party from unrelated causes. An example would be a car accident occurring on 01/01/2015, and then the injured party dies in a Rodeo accident ton 04/01/2015. This statute cuts off all damages post the unrelated death on 04/01/2015. Whatever the injured person incurred as to pain, suffering and medical bills prior to the 04/01/2015 cutoff date, the injured party’s estate would be able to recover for.

The exception is that in no event can the deceased injured party’s estate receive more than $100,000 in general damages. Simply put, pain and suffering for the injured party will always be cut off at $100,000 or less.

(3). Injured Party Dies from Unrelated Causes Greater than Six Months after the Car Accident.

78B-3-107(1)(c) STATES

(c) If the death of the injured party from an unrelated cause occurs more than six months after the incident giving rise to the claim for damages, the claim shall be limited to special damages unless, prior to the injured party’s death:

(i) written notice of intent to hold the wrongdoer responsible has been mailed to or served upon the wrongdoer or the wrongdoer’s insurance carrier or the uninsured motorist carrier of the injured party, and proof of mailing or service can be produced upon request; or

(ii) a claim for damages against the wrongdoer or against the uninsured motorist carrier of the injured party is the subject of ongoing negotiations between the parties or persons representing the parties or their insurers.

This provision applies to injured parties who die greater than six months after the car accident. The section limits damages to special damages only, unless a written demand for damages has occurred, or the claim is subject to ongoing negotiations.

The importance of this provision is that a damages claim will limited to special damages and no general damages will be allowed unless you fit the two exceptions listed. Examples of special damages are lost wages, medical bills, home health expenses, etc.

(4). Catchall Damages Limitation for Injured Parties who Die from Unrelated Causes.

(e) In no event shall an award of general damages available under the circumstances described in Subsection (1)(b) or (1)(c) against any wrongdoer or any insurer exceed $100,000 regardless of available liability, uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle coverage.

Regardless of whether the injured person dies within six months of the injury causing event, or after six months, any general damage award is limited to $100,000. No more. This is where a Utah car accident case is significantly impacted and changes the negotiations dynamics.

CONCLUSION:

When either the defendant or the injured plaintiff dies during the middle of a personal injury claim or litigation, the dynamics of compensation change radically. Only an experienced Utah personal injury attorney will know how to help you obtain adequate and fair compensation.

Call car accident personal injury attorney Jacob S. Gunter at (801) 373-6345 for a completely no risk and free consultation.

 

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UTAH STATE CODE

Effective 5/12/2015

 

78B-3-107. Survival of action for injury or death to person, upon death of wrongdoer or injured person — Exception and restriction to out-of-pocket expenses.
(1)
(a) A cause of action arising out of personal injury to a person, or death caused by the wrongful act or negligence of a wrongdoer, does not abate upon the death of the wrongdoer or the injured person. The injured person, or the personal representatives or heirs of the person who died, has a cause of action against the wrongdoer or the personal representatives of the wrongdoer for special and general damages, subject to Subsection (1)(b).

(b) If, prior to judgment or settlement, the injured person dies as a result of a cause other than the injury received as a result of the wrongful act or negligence of the wrongdoer, the personal representatives or heirs of the person have a cause of action against the wrongdoer or personal representatives of the wrongdoer for special and general damages which resulted from the injury caused by the wrongdoer and which occurred prior to death of the injured party from the unrelated cause.

(c) If the death of the injured party from an unrelated cause occurs more than six months after the incident giving rise to the claim for damages, the claim shall be limited to special damages unless, prior to the injured party’s death:
(i) written notice of intent to hold the wrongdoer responsible has been mailed to or served upon the wrongdoer or the wrongdoer’s insurance carrier or the uninsured motorist carrier of the injured party, and proof of mailing or service can be produced upon request; or
(ii) a claim for damages against the wrongdoer or against the uninsured motorist carrier of the injured party is the subject of ongoing negotiations between the parties or persons representing the parties or their insurers.

(d) A subsequent claim against an underinsured motorist carrier for which the injured party was a covered person is not subject to the notice requirement described in Subsection (1)(c).
(e) In no event shall an award of general damages available under the circumstances described in Subsection (1)(b) or (1)(c) against any wrongdoer or any insurer exceed $100,000 regardless of available liability, uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle coverage.
(2) Under Subsection (1) neither the injured person nor the personal representatives or heirs of the person who dies may recover judgment except upon competent satisfactory evidence other than the testimony of the injured person.
(3) This section may not be construed to be retroactive.

Amended by Chapter 382, 2015 General Session

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