What to Do if a Family Member Gets Killed in a Motorcycle Accident in Utah
The period after a loved one’s unexpected motorcycling death is a profoundly painful and overwhelming time. Taking legal action is, understandably, probably one of the last things on your mind right now. Take the time you need to look after yourself and your loved ones, and know that, whenever you feel ready, an experienced Salt Lake City motorcycle accident attorney will be there to help you and your relatives exercise your legal rights as the surviving family members of a fatal accident victim. You have a right to seek answers and justice for what happened to your loved one, and your family may be entitled to compensation for funeral expenses, lost benefits, and other losses. This article will help you understand how to prepare for a wrongful death lawsuit after losing a loved one to a fatal motorcycle crash in Utah.
Utah Fatal Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Traffic accidents and unintentional injuries are leading causes of death in the United States. Unfortunately, due to factors like their small size and lack of seat-belts, motorcycles are more dangerous for riders than cars, truck, or other types of vehicles. Even when a motorcyclist is highly experienced and rides cautiously, the careless actions of other drivers pose a constant threat.
This is reflected in Utah’s fatal motorcycle crash statistics, which show that motorcycles accounted for more than 20% of all fatal auto accidents in Utah in 2014, despite making up just a fraction of Utah’s registered vehicles. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “The federal government estimates that per mile traveled in 2013, the number of deaths on motorcycles was over 26 times the number in cars.”
Tragically, many motorcycling deaths are preventable and are caused by the negligence of other motorists, a subject we covered in our article on the leading causes of motorcycle crashes in Utah. When a driver fails to stop at a red light, check their rearview mirrors, or leave a safe following distance between their vehicle and a motorcycle up ahead, a deadly accident can occur in a matter of seconds.
If your loved one’s death was caused by another driver, he or she could be responsible for your family’s losses and hardships, including losses that are anticipated in the future, such as income the accident victim would have earned to support children or other dependents. You can read about getting compensated in detail in our article on compensation for the wrongful death of a family member.
How to Prepare to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Family Member is Killed
You need time to grieve and process your loss after the death of a loved one. However, whenever you feel like you are ready to discuss your loved one’s accident, your first step should be to find a knowledgeable, compassionate, and experienced attorney with a history of favorable case outcomes. Your Tooele County wrongful death lawyer should be a person you feel comfortable talking to, and feel that you can trust and be honest with. Keep in mind that an accidental death case may take several years to resolve, so you should feel confident about working with this person on a long-term basis.
You should make sure that any potential Utah personal injury attorney has specific, relevant experience handling both wrongful death cases and motorcycle accidents, which will ensure that your family is represented by a person who possesses thorough, nuanced knowledge of all of the elements of your loved one’s crash. Some attorneys handle one but not the other, or have minimal experience in both or either practice areas.
You should also take care to gather (and copy, where possible) any items and documents that you think could potentially be useful as evidence. Don’t worry about getting “too much” or “irrelevant” information at this stage. Your attorney will carefully sift through your records to determine where and how evidence could potentially be utilized to help build a stronger case.
Useful items, statements, and records to locate include:
- Any documents or receipts involving the motorcycle that was in the crash, such as invoices and receipts from bike accessory purchases or visits to the mechanic. In some cases, product defects such as defective brakes or defective helmets play a role in causing fatal injuries, which is a possibility an experienced Salt Lake product liability lawyer can help you investigate.
- Photographs of the accident scene, the motorcycle, and the other driver’s vehicle.
- Police statements and police accident reports.
- Statements from any onlookers who witnessed the accident occur, such as pedestrians or other drivers who pulled over to assist.
- The accident victim’s insurance policy.
- Your loved one’s medical records, including documentation like medical scans and prescription slips.
Right now, just do the best you can to gather as much information as possible. Your attorney can always help you track down pieces of information that are missing.
Finally, you and your family should sit down and have a frank discussion about which of you feels emotionally and mentally prepared to act as the plaintiff, or the person who actually brings the suit. State law prohibits multiple relatives from filing separate lawsuits for the same fatal accident under Utah Code § 78B-3-106(2), which provides that “only one action may be maintained for the person’s injury or death.” Only immediate family members and personal representatives are permitted to bring wrongful death actions for deceased accident victims.
Salt Lake City Accident Lawyers Handling Motorcycle Crashes
When you are ready to start exploring your family’s legal options, Washington County motorcycle accident lawyer Darwin Overson will be there to provide guidance and support. Please do not hesitate to call our law offices any time of day or evening at (801) 895-3143 for a free and confidential legal consultation. Darwin handles cases throughout the state of Utah.