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How to Prove Wrongful Death in a Utah Civil Case

Losing a loved one because of someone else’s irresponsibility can be difficult to handle. Although it may be clear to you that negligence led to your loved one’s passing, the details of your case may not be as straightforward to a court.  Similar to personal injury cases, you are burdened with proving that another party behaved negligently and their negligence resulted in harm that caused the death of your loved one.

While it may be challenging to do while handling the aftermath of your loss, it’s important to build a strong case and defense strategy to prove wrongful death. This is necessary so that you can recover compensation for all your losses. Proving your wrongful death case is a heavy burden to bear. It may be beneficial to rely on an experienced wrongful death lawyer who knows what your case needs to succeed.

How Do Utah Wrongful Death Cases Work?

Wrongful death cases are similar to personal injury cases. In both cases, a liable party, or parties, causes another person to be harmed. The key difference is that the liable party’s actions ultimately result in the accident victim’s death. Under Utah Code § 78B-3-106, when a person’s wrongful act or neglect causes the death of another person, the victim’s heirs or personal representatives may file for damages against the liable party.

By filing a claim, the survivor becomes the plaintiff in a civil case against the negligent party. The case determines whether the defendant, the person who is being sued, is responsible for the accident and any losses suffered by the deceased and their survivors. If the plaintiff can prove that the defendant is liable, they will be required to pay the deceased’s survivors compensation to recover those losses.

What Must the Plaintiff Prove in a Wrongful Death Case?

Whenever you prove a personal injury or a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must bring forth a case that meets the four stipulations for establishing negligence. Wrongful death claims are characterized by a duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. The plaintiff must prove the presence of these four elements to establish that their loved one’s death was a direct result of the negligent actions of the liable party.

The Defendant Owed the Deceased a Duty of Care

The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. For example, if the victim died from injuries resulting from a car accident, the defendant had a responsibility, or duty of care, to follow road safety laws and not cause harm to others while driving.

The Defendant Breached Their Duty by Acting in a Certain Way

The plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached their duty by acting a certain way. In the driving scenario, this would look like proving that the other driver crashed into your loved one’s vehicle because they were distracted by their cell phone, which is a negligent act that violates the driver’s responsibility to drive safely. Gathering evidence and collecting witness statements are crucial parts of this element.

The Defendant’s Actions or Inactions Directly Led to the Deceased’s Injuries

Next, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions or inactions directly led to the deceased’s injuries. Proving this typically requires evidence of the defendant’s actions as well as the deceased’s medical records and documentation of their injuries following the accident. Your evidence should demonstrate that the victim would not have acquired these injuries if not for the defendant’s actions.

The Defendant’s Actions Ultimately Caused the Deceased’s Death

Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions ultimately caused the deceased’s death, making the plaintiff eligible to recover damages. Medical records create a paper trail that shows how the deceased was injured in the accident and ultimately died of their injuries. They also document the cost of medical procedures and treatments which the liable party may be required to compensate for.

Hire a Dependable Utah Wrongful Death Lawyer

As your loved one’s survivor, you must bear the burden of proving that your loved one’s losses were the result of negligence to recover damages successfully. A skilled wrongful death lawyer can shoulder that burden for you.

At Feller & Wendt, LLC, we know what it takes to prove a wrongful death case and secure fair compensation for our clients. With more than 25 years of experience helping personal injury victims, you can depend on us to work with you through the legal process to obtain the best outcome for your case. Get in touch with our firm by calling  (801) 499-5060 or submitting our contact form, and we’ll schedule your free legal consultation.