Each state has its own set of laws defining what a wrongful death is and how to file a claim. But wrongful death in Utah, at its simplest definition, is a death caused by someone’s negligence or wrongdoing, such as in a fatal car accident.
The sudden death of a loved one caused by someone else is not only emotionally traumatic, but it can also negatively impact a grieving family’s finances. While nothing can take away the pain experienced after an unexpected death, seeking compensation for the loss is a way to hold the responsible party liable.
Read further to learn more about what the law says about wrongful death lawsuits in Utah and how Great West Injury Law helps seek compensation for families who experience such loss.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
According to Utah’s code of law, when a person dies because of the action or inaction of another person, their heirs or an appointed representative (often called an executor) can bring a lawsuit against the negligent party. There may be criminal charges brought in certain circumstances, but that action is separate from the civil case, also known as a wrongful death lawsuit.
It is critical that those who have lost a loved one because another party was reckless or negligent contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer. This is the only way to hold the liable party accountable for damages and secure compensation for funeral costs, the loss of the deceased’s income to the household, medical bills, and the unthinkable emotional pain associated with a wrongful death.
Two Types of Claims Associated with Wrongful Death
When a wrongful death occurs, there are two types of claims that can be made by the heirs or other legal representatives of the deceased’s estate. They are a wrongful death claim (as we mentioned above) and a survival action claim.
We’ve covered how Utah law defines wrongful death, so let’s discuss what survival action means. In Utah, the survival of action law allows the deceased person’s representative to seek damages for the pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, etc., that occurred prior to the victim’s death. This situation arises when the person injured by someone else’s negligence does not die immediately after the injury occurs. The emotional and physical pain experienced by the deceased during this period is a valid cause of action and deserves acknowledgment and compensation.
How Does Utah Define “Heirs”?
As we mentioned, a wrongful death claim can be filed by the deceased person’s executor or a surviving heir. According to Utah Code § 78B-3-106, here are the heirs who may file a wrongful death claim:
- Children (biological and adopted)
- Stepchildren (if under 18 and financially dependent upon the deceased)
If there are no living heirs from the categories mentioned in this list, the next of kin or nearest blood relative may be able to file.
Examples of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death cases can be brought forth wherever there is negligence or misconduct. Here are a few types of cases that warrant a wrongful death claim:
- Car accidents (such as drunk or distracted driving crashes)
- Car manufacturer defects (such as when a vehicle is sold with defective airbags or accelerator/brake pedals)
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Defective drugs or products
Utah’s Statute of Limitations
Regardless of how a wrongful death occurs or who files the claim, it must be filed before the statute of limitations is up to be heard. The wrongful death statute of limitations in Utah is two years from the victim’s death or one year from the victim’s death if the claim is filed against the government.
Contact the Wrongful Death Attorneys at Great West Injury Law
If you’ve lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, we believe it’s important for you to have an experienced and compassionate advocate on your side. Our Utah wrongful death lawyers at Great West Injury Law can help you take the legal steps necessary to recover the compensation you need and deserve after such a tremendous loss.