Sep 11 2020

The Basics of Wrongful Death Claims in Utah

If someone you love was killed due to the misconduct, negligence or carelessness of another party, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. Bringing a lawsuit can provide you with the compensation you deserve for the loss you have suffered, while also holding the responsible person or entity accountable for their actions.

Here, the experienced legal team at William R. Rawlings & Associates share answers to some of the most common questions we receive about Utah wrongful death cases.

Who can file a wrongful death claim in Utah?

When Is a Wrongful Death Claim Appropriate?

Generally speaking, a lawsuit is appropriate in situations where the victim would have had a valid Utah personal injury case if they survived. Examples of circumstances that can give rise to a legal claim for compensation include:

  • Car accident fatalities
  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective products
  • Property negligence
  • Workplace accidents

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Utah?

Under Utah law, this type of claim can be filed by the surviving heirs of the deceased victim or a representative of the estate. People who have the legal right to seek compensation for the loss of a loved one include:

  • The victim’s surviving spouse
  • Biological and adopted children
  • Natural or adoptive parents
  • Financially dependent minor stepchildren
  • The decedent’s legal guardian

What Evidence is Needed to Prove a Claim?

Proving that someone is legally liable for a death requires a preponderance of evidence – or, in other words, most of the evidence provided must indicate that the defendant is responsible. In Utah, legal claims need to prove the following in order to be successful:

  • The victim died
  • The death was caused by the defendant’s wrongful act or negligence
  • The deceased victim has at least one surviving heir or dependent
  • The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the death

How is Compensation for Calculated?

Depending upon the specific circumstances of a claim, the plaintiff may be entitled to financial compensation. The damages that may be awarded in a Utah lawsuit include:

  • The victim’s medical expenses
  • Burial and funeral costs
  • The family’s pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of support and income
  • Loss of medical or pension benefits
  • Punitive damages

Should You File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death case in Utah is typically two years, but special rules and exceptions may apply – which could mean you have less time to file a claim than you think. As such, if you’re thinking that you may have grounds to take legal action, consulting with an experienced attorney as soon as possible is in your best interests.

At William R. Rawlings & Associates, our legal team has more than 35 years of experience fighting for the rights of surviving victims – and we’re successful in obtaining compensation in 98 percent of the cases we take on. Contact our Draper or West Valley City office today to schedule a free consultation or to discuss your case with a Utah wrongful death lawyer.