Nothing is more devastating than the loss of a spouse or family member, particularly when the death was caused by another person’s incompetent, careless actions. It is all but impossible to move forward from a death when you are deprived of accountability for what happened, which is why attorney Jay Sheen is passionately committed to fighting for justice on behalf of fatal accident victims and their surviving family members.
With more than 33 years of experience handling accidental death cases in the Salt Lake City area, Jay is always sensitive to the deeply painful and personal nature of these cases. He will do everything in his power to make the legal process as simple and unobtrusive for you as possible. His goal is to lighten your burden by providing your family with compassionate and comprehensive legal support, and ultimately, to obtain a resolution that will allow you to begin the healing process while providing greater financial security for you and your loved ones.
Jay makes himself available to clients around the clock, no matter how late or early the hour. Call Jay at any time at (801) 618-3580 to schedule a free legal consultation. He will keep your family’s information private.
What is Wrongful Death? What is Negligence?
While the legal definition of wrongful death varies slightly from state to state, it can generally be described as any preventable death resulting from the negligence of a person or business. More specifically, Utah Code § 78B-3-106(1) defines it as any death “caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.”
Proving the negligence of the party at fault is the foundation of every wrongful death claim. In a legal context, “negligence” describes the failure of a company or individual to take the appropriate, reasonable actions to prevent a foreseeable death or injury from occurring. Stated another way, negligence means that a person or business either did something which they should not have done, or failed to do something which they should have done, resulting in a death which should otherwise have been avoidable.
There are many ways negligence can cause an accidental death, depending on how the accident occurred. For example, with regard to deaths that are caused by car accidents, negligence generally involves the other driver’s failure to obey traffic laws, such as speeding, driving while intoxicated, or making an improper left turn. Depending on the circumstances of the death, other forms of negligence might involve:
- Failure to adequately supervise an inexperienced employee at a worksite.
- Failure to comply with safety laws or industry regulations.
- Failure to diagnose cancer or other fatal medical conditions.
- Failure to perform adequate property maintenance, which can create the hazardous conditions leading to a fatal slip and fall accident.
- Failure to adequately test or label a dangerous product, such as a prescription drug, children’s toy, or household appliance.
- Manufacturing or design defects, which can lead a product to malfunction catastrophically.
- Medication errors and surgical errors.
Who May Bring a Claim, and What Legal Deadlines Apply in UT?
No one disputes that an accidental death can touch many people’s lives. However, not everyone possesses the legal authority to bring a claim on behalf of the person who was killed, known as the decedent. Under Utah Code § 78B-3-106(1), only the victim’s heirs or personal representatives may file a lawsuit (“maintain an action for damages”) for accidental death.
In addition to regulating who may file a lawsuit, state laws also regulate when the victim’s heirs or representatives may sue. A legal deadline known as the “statute of limitations” acts as the deadline for filing a lawsuit, not only in Utah, but in all states. In Utah, the applicable statute of limitations is two years from the date of death. It’s important to keep in mind that the statute of limitations varies by state and type of accident.
We completely understand that complex legal matters are the very last thing anyone wants to deal with after a loved one’s death, which is why our firm takes every measure to take care of all the legal work for you. At the same time, it is vital to make sure that you consult with an attorney well before the statute of limitations runs out of time, the earlier the better.
If the deadline passes, your claim will not be able to proceed through Utah’s court system, and you will forever lose the ability to obtain the closure and accountability you deserve from the responsible party. You will also be unable to obtain compensation for the financial losses and emotional hardships you and your family have endured.
Our Utah Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help
In order to avoid running into the above obstacles, it is vital that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible, even if you aren’t completely sure whether you have a case or wish to file a lawsuit. That way, you can at least begin to explore some of the options which may be available to your family, long before you have to worry about any legal deadlines passing. To arrange a free, completely confidential legal consultation, call attorney Jay Sheen at (801) 618-3580. Jay will answer your questions honestly and help you understand whether you have a case.