Utah and Idaho laws provide remedies to family members when a loved one dies due to “driving under the influence” or DUI. This is always a difficult time, one where nobody needs more stress — and a lawsuit always brings more stress. The Morgan Law Firm will combine experience and compassion as we help you deal with your loss and the legal fall out.
The Statute of Limitations
The date of death and date of filing any DUI-related wrongful death claim could be the most important facts in any DUI case. In Utah, you have two years to file most claims. You have one year if the plaintiff is a government agency — not likely in a DUI. In Idaho, you also have two years for most suits. However, the government limit of six months also applies to drinking establishments. This is vital: In Idaho, you can sue a bar or tavern, but you’ll have to prove the culprit was in that bar, had too much and the owner/operator knew they had too much and didn’t try to stop the offender. Tough, but not impossible.
Utah and Idaho law defines specifically who can file a wrongful death suit: The surviving spouse, any surviving adult children or biological/adoptive parents — in short, the heirs. Stepchildren may also file if they were under age 18 at time of death and were financially dependent on the deceased. The law assumes an heir becomes the deceased’s personal representative, however, persons with an estate plan may name anyone as personal representative for legal matters. That individual, relative or not, may also file a claim.
DUIs often get a slap on the wrist for criminal driving, but when your loved one loses their life, justice means more than a suspended license. Victims’ families should cooperate with prosecutors to see that all options under criminal law stay on the table.
Wrongful death claims, meanwhile, are handled under civil law; they are separate from any criminal action, and you can win a civil case even if the defendant is judged not guilty.
Damages can include all medical expenses related to the accident, funeral/burial expenses, lost wages (current and future) plus pain, suffering, loss of care, companionship (conjugal or otherwise), even guidance to family members. Punitive damages are also awarded where awards might effectively punish the offender for intentional or reckless behavior — hopefully, to serve as a deterrent to others.
Don’t Go It Alone
Wrongful death can arise from motor vehicle accidents or vehicle-related incidents, such as a DUI who drives into a store while you’re shopping in it. Every case has its own details and challenges, and, of course, the defendants will try everything under the law to clear themselves of wrongdoing. Contact the Morgan Law Firm in Utah & Idaho, let us handle it while you heal.