Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Utah?
Death in any family is a tragedy, but the additional expenses of the funeral services and the loss of a long-term income of the deceased can be a stressful burden on the family having an impact through many generations.
However, much like many states, Utah has its own guidelines and set of laws on who, how and when can someone apply to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
What the Law Says
Section 78B-3-106 of the Utah state code clearly states that another party’s “wrongful act, neglect or default action” is the primary cause of a wrongful death. It is also important to note that the conduct which drives or causes the death of the deceased would also be the one which would be able to support a personal injury claim.
Who Can Sue in the State of Utah?
The primary right to file a case lies with the immediate surviving family of the deceased. This is primarily summarized in Section 78B-3-105 of the Utah state code which states that the people within the family who are heirs of the victim can claim a wrongful death suit, including the following:
- Surviving adult children
- Surviving parents (which also includes adoptive parents)
- Any surviving spouse
- Any surviving step children (the condition being that at the time of death they were minors and were financially dependent on the victim)
- Any other blood relative who falls in the ambit of Utah’s inheritance laws
Furthermore, a claim can also be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate and also if the deceased had any legal guardian, he or she may bring a claim to court as well. It is the family of the victim that has to decide if they want to file a lawsuit and then determine how much compensation they want to claim.
The Time Limits
If the claim is filed against a government owned enterprise or a government entity, then the Statue of Limitation states that the claim has to be filed in one year. Otherwise, the law is crystal clear that a case for wrongful death has to be filed in two years of the death of the deceased.
It does not matter who brings the claim to the court, what is more crucial in technical terms is if the case is brought within the time span in order to even be heard.
It is also important to note that a wrongful death lawsuit is not a criminal case and hence has to be filed in a civil court by the heir or his personal representative directly. This is best initiated by a wrongful death lawyer in Utah. In this manner a wrongful death claim differs from that of a homicide as the latter one has to be filed by the prosecuting attorney.
Claim to Damages in the State of Utah
In a wrongful death lawsuit, damages are compensation to the family of the deceased in order to make their suffering easier and are related to the death of the victim. In a successful lawsuit, the damages that can be covered are as follows:
- The expenses or costs of the deceased funeral and burial
- Any medical expenses which were accrued to the deceased’s injury or illness
- Any income that was lost to the family relating to the deceased which includes his or her wages and any benefits that could have been availed owing to the person being alive
- Emotional damages for the pain, shock, and suffering which came about as a result of the death of the deceased
- Any loss which can be attributed to the loss of companionship, guidance and care of the deceased
- Any punitive damages meant to punish the party at fault.
If you or anyone you know has lost a loved one through wrongful death, it is essential that you file a wrongful death lawsuit with an attorney who understands and feels your pain in order to seek your rightful compensation for the loss in your family.