Monthly Archives: November 2014

Wrongful Death in Utah: Justice for Survivors


When the unthinkable happens, those left behind are sometimes left wondering if something could have been done to prevent the death of a loved one.  When the death of a spouse, parent or child results from the negligence of another, the surviving heirs may have a wrongful death claim.

What gives rise to a wrongful death claim in Utah?

A wrongful act or negligence causing a death can give rise to a wrongful death claim in Utah.  The claim is recognized by the Utah State Constitution as well as by statute.  See Utah Code Ann. Section 78B-3-106.  A wrongful death can occur due to medical malpractice, an automobile or truck accident, a slip and fall, or any other negligent act.

Who can bring the claim?

A Utah wrongful death lawsuit must be brought by the heirs, or personal representative on behalf of the heirs, of the deceased.  If an adult had a guardian at the time of the death, the guardian may bring the action on behalf of the heirs.  See Utah Code Ann. Section 78B-3-106(2).  The laws can be complex in this area and an attorney must evaluate your specific situation, but generally, the claim can be brought by a surviving spouse, adult children, or parents.

What damages can be recovered?

Utah law allows surviving heirs to recover economic damages such as money for the loss of financial support, the loss of inheritance, and other economic benefits that the heirs would have received had the decedent lived.

Money damages can also be recovered for general damages for the loss of things such as love, companionship, society, comfort, protection and affection which survivors have sustained and will sustain in the future.  See Utah Code Ann. Sections 78B-3-106 and 107 and Oxendine v. Overturf, 973 P.2d 417 (1999).

How can you tell if you have a valid wrongful death case in Utah? 

A strong wrongful death case depends on many factors that usually must be evaluated by an experienced Utah wrongful death lawyer.  As an attorney that has handled many of these cases, I look for strong liability first and foremost.  Strong liability means the death was clearly caused by some negligence or carelessness of another.  Sometimes, particularly in medical malpractice cases, an expert will need to be retained to evaluate the evidence and determine if negligence was involved.  In addition to strong liability, there must also be a source of funds to pay any damages that are awarded.  The source of these funds is nearly always insurance coverage.

If you suspect a loved-one died as a result of negligence, I would be happy to talk to you about your situation for free.  Contact Jared Faerber at The Faerber Law Firm, PC (801) 943-1005.

Campylobacter Sickens 45 in Utah this Summer


This summer, Utah state food inspectors suspended Ropelato Dairy’s license to sell raw milk after dozens of people became sick after drinking the campylobacter contaminated milk.  Raw milk is milk that has not be pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, E. coli, and campylobacter.  Other products such as cream and queso fresco can also cause foodborne illnesses if they contain contaminated raw milk.

Those sickened ranged from age 2 to 74 and included people in Davis, Cache, Morgan, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber Counties.

Campylobacter, or campy, causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting.  The illness is particularly dangerous for young children, the elderly, or those with weakened immune systems.  In severe cases, it can lead to complications such as paralysis and death.

A difficult problem is that raw milk contaminated with disease-causing bacteria does not look or smell any different than uncontaminated raw milk.  Therefore, there is no easy way for consumers to know if the milk is safe.

Since 2009, there have been 14 documented outbreaks of campylobacter infection associated with drinking raw milk in Utah alone.  This resulted in over 200 people becoming ill.  A study released by the the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found raw milk to be 150 times more likely than pasteurized milk to cause illness in those who consume it.

As a Utah lawyer who handles foodborne illness cases, I have assisted many people to recover financially from those responsible for selling contaminated products.  If you or a loved one have been sickened in a foodborne illness outbreak in Utah, feel free to contact me at The Faerber Law Firm, PC (801) 943-1005 for a free consultation.

Can I Sue for Falls in a Utah Hospital, Nursing Home, or Other Health Care Facility?


Falls are a big problem.

Falls in healthcare settings are a serious problem in Utah and around the country.  Studies suggest that an estimated 2% to 10% of hospital inpatients fall during a hospital stay.  According to the U.S. CDC, falls are the leading cause of death from unintentional injuries among U.S. adults 65 or older.  The direct medical costs to treat individuals 65 and older injured in falls is estimated at over $19 billion dollars annually in the U.S.

The most common serious injury sustained from falls is a hip fracture.  Of course, other serious injuries such as excessive bleeding, other fractures, and death also occur due to falls in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, physical therapy offices, and other health care settings.

Legal Implications

As a Utah medical malpractice attorney, I have successfully represented individuals in claims against health care providers, hospitals, and nursing homes for injuries sustained in falls.

I have found there are many things that can be done by hospitals and other health care professionals to reduce the risk of falls.  Nursing homes, hospitals, and many other providers have a duty to develop and maintain fall prevention policies, procedures and tools.  Patients should be assessed and reassessed for fall risk.  Environmental inspections can be done to identify and eliminate risks for falls.  In addition, staff should be educated about fall prevention and risk and how to respond and report falls.

Failure to take appropriate steps to prevent falls or to properly treat patients when they occur may be medical malpractice.  Medical malpractice is a type of professional negligence where health care providers fail to follow the standards in their industry.

Of course not all falls in a hospital or doctor’s office are the fault of the health care professional.  However, if proper precautions are not taken, liability for falls may exist.

Here are some examples of successful lawsuits and claims for falls in Utah hospitals, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices:

  • A mentally compromised elderly man fell from a window at a nursing home        resulting in his death.  The nursing home failed to properly supervise the individual and secure his environment.
  • A man suffered a hip fracture getting down from an examination table after a procedure.  He was medicated and unstable, yet staff failed to assist him as required.
  • A woman was seriously injured during physical therapy.  She was given an inappropriately difficult exercise on an improper machine, improperly monitored, and improperly assisted.

Each of these lawsuits resulted in significant settlements for the injured party.  If you or a loved one have been injured in a fall at a Utah hospital, nursing home, or other medical facility, you need a Utah lawyer with experience in these types of claims.  Please call attorney Jared Faerber at The Faerber Law Firm, PC (801) 943-1005 for a free consultation.