Category Archives: Wrongful Death

Utah Methadone Attorney Discusses Overdose Deaths

Utah methadone attorney

Methadone works by occupying the same brain receptor sites affected by heroin and other opioids.  Because of this property, it can be used as a treatment for chronic pain as well as a therapy for opioid dependance.

Methadone Related Deaths

In the last 15 years, deaths related to methadone have skyrocketed in the U.S.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control, the number of drug-poisoning deaths involving methadone increased from 784 deaths in 1999 to 5,518 deaths in 2007; then it declined to 4,418 deaths in 2011.  While the trend is improving, the numbers of deaths attributed to methadone toxicity are staggering.  While most of these deaths are unlikely to be the result of medical malpractice, far too many of them are.

Methadone causes approximately 60-70 deaths per year in Utah.  http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/54426007-78/methadone-deaths-drug-utah.html.csp

Legal Considerations

Under Utah law, a physician or other health care provider is required to exercise the same degree of learning, care and skill possessed by others in good standing practicing in the same medical field. Failure to exercise this degree of care is considered a breach in the standard of care and, if it causes harm, allows a claim for medical malpractice.  See Farrow v. Health Servs. Corp. 604 P.2d 474 (Utah 1979).

These standards apply to doctors and other providers who prescribe or administer methadone to patients for pain management or as therapy for opioid dependance.  In Utah, there are a number of methadone clinics providing this treatment.

While methadone can be a life-saving medication for many people, it carries significant risks which doctors must weigh against any potential benefits.  Methadone is a risky medication because it remains active in the body for a long period of time.  It carries the risk of respiratory depression which can lead to death.  Methadone can also cause dangerous cardiac arrhythmias.  Initial dosing is extremely important and generally must be tailored to each individual patient.  In addition, various other medications interact with methadone and can increase its effect.  Patients must be carefully monitored on a regular basis, particularly when doses are increased or treatment is begun.  See Applying Legal Risk Management To the Clinical Use of Methadone, James O’Donnell, PharmD, M.S. and F. Randy Vogenberg, Rph, PhD.

My firm has successfully handled methadone overdose cases in Utah.  We work carefully with the surviving loved-ones, expert witnesses, and others to uncover the facts and pursue valid cases.  If you suspect your loved one died as a result of methadone toxicity which was inappropriately prescribed or monitored in Utah, please contact me, Utah attorney Jared Faerber at (801) 943-1005, for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Wrongful Death in Utah: Justice for Survivors

UtahWrongfulDeathLaw

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.