Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Utah?

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Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Utah?

By Steven Jensen
September 19, 2022

Wrongful death in Utah can happen due to negligence and carelessness of others. The loss of a loved one is hard enough to handle. You have the right to file a wrongful death claim and get justice if it is because of negligence. But do you know that not everyone has the right to bring a wrongful death claim in Utah? Don’t waste time and find out who qualifies. This article will explain who can bring a Utah wrongful death claim, what damages they are entitled to, and why it is crucial to get legal help before filing a claim.

Understanding Utah’s Wrongful Death Laws


According to Utah Code section 78B-3-106, a death caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of the at-fault party is a wrongful death. In other words, wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to the legal negligence of another person or entity, such as:

  • A negligence-based event (such as a car accident);
  • Medical malpractice; or
  • Intentional conduct (including a crime).

Personal injury claims and wrongful death claims are comparable. They are both based on some actionable injury. However, in a wrongful death case, the victim cannot bring a lawsuit on his behalf, unlike in personal injury cases.

For obvious reasons, another party must present the case in civil court on behalf of the injured party and all other family members who suffered harm due to the deceased person’s sudden death. This situation raises the issue of who can file this kind of wrongful death case successfully.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Utah?

The deceased person’s heirs or the personal representative of the dead person’s estate must file the wrongful death lawsuit. Sometimes known as the “executor.” On the other hand, if the deceased person was an adult under guardianship, the legal guardian may file a wrongful death claim in court.

According to Utah Law, the “heirs” who may pursue wrongful death claims are:

  • The decedent’s spouse;
  • The decedent’s children, including adopted children;
  • The surviving parent or parents, including adoptive parents;
  • The stepchildren under 18 at the time of the stepparent’s death were financially dependent on the deceased; and
  • Other blood relatives, if none of the above individuals, survived.

You may have the right to financial compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.

How Long Do I Have to File a Utah Wrongful Death Claim?


To be considered in court, the executor should bring the wrongful death claim within the time restriction imposed by a law known as a “statute of limitations.” In Utah, one must file wrongful death claims within 2 years of the date of the death or 1 year of the death if the wrongful death claim is filed against a government institution. (Utah Code 78B-2-304 and 63G-7-402 (2021).)

If you’re unsure whether your wrongful death suit qualifies for an extension, you should speak with personal injury lawyers specializing in a Utah wrongful death case.

Proving Liability in Wrongful Death Cases

When proving a personal injury or wrongful death case, the plaintiff must present evidence that satisfies the requirements for proving negligence. The elements of a wrongful death claim are a duty of care, a breach of that duty, and causation. To establish that the death of their loved one was a direct result of the liable party’s negligence, the plaintiff must show the presence of the following elements:

The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased.

The plaintiff must show the defendant’s duty of care to the deceased. For instance, if the victim died from injuries sustained in a car accident, the defendant had a responsibility, or duty of care, to adhere to road safety laws and not cause damage to others while driving.

The defendant breaches the duty of care by acting in a particular manner.

The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions constitute a breach of duty. It will be evidence that the other motorist slammed into your loved one’s vehicle because they were distracted by their cell phone, a negligent act violating the driver’s duty to drive safely. The collection of evidence and witness statements are essential components of this phase.

The defendant’s actions or inactions caused the deceased’s injuries directly.

The plaintiff must then prove that the defendant’s actions or inactions directly caused the decedent’s injuries. Typically, this involves evidence of the defendant’s activities and the decedent’s medical records and accident-related injury documents. Your evidence should show that the victim would not have sustained these injuries if the defendant’s acts were absent.

As a personal representative seeking damages, you must prove that someone’s carelessness caused your loved one’s losses. A knowledgeable Utah wrongful death attorney can take that weight off your shoulders.

Beneficiaries of Wrongful Death Claim


Beneficiaries are those people or surviving family members entitled to collect money from a wrongful death claim. These people include:

Financial Dependents

Anyone who depends on a wrongful death victim financially is entitled to compensation. The victim’s dependents should continue to receive the financial assistance they deserve. Why? Because the victim was providing and, presumably, intended to continue providing financial resources to them. Although close relatives are a priority, financially dependent people may be eligible for compensation.

Extended Family Members


If there are no close relatives or people who depend on them financially, extended family may be able to sue for wrongful death. Blood relatives in the victim’s extended family will be their heirs. The term “extended family” includes parents, spouses, adult children, and others who depend on them.

Immediate Family Members

The legal right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible for their loved one’s unfortunate death extends to:

  • Spouses;
  • Life partners;
  • Children;
  • Adopted children; and
  • Other dependents.

In this case, the immediate family will come first. It means that the immediate family will be considered before other family members, such as siblings or parents, if they attempt to file wrongful death lawsuits.

Call a Utah wrongful death lawyer immediately if you have lost a loved one because of someone’s wrongful act to help you file a wrongful death claim and get you the compensation you deserve.

Damages Available for Bereaved Loved Ones


If you’ve lost a loved one, you might be wondering what kind of damages are available to you. Most damages in wrongful death cases fall under “compensatory damages,” which are to compensate surviving family members for losses resulting from the death. Damages recoverable in wrongful death cases in Utah may include reimbursement for:

Medical and Funeral Expenses

Bills for the loss of a loved one can start to rise after a tragedy. The family shouldn’t be responsible for those costs if they try to save the victim’s life. Also, the responsible party must pay for any burial charges and final expenses. These costs can quickly mount up, putting the family in despair. Hiring a wrongful death lawyer to seek damages may help the victim’s family to focus on moving forward without worrying about medical expenditures.

Pain and Suffering

When a loved one dies, it can leave deep mental and emotional scars. In Utah, the at-fault party can give punitive damages to the deceased’s family to compensate for their pain and suffering. These damages will help the family overcome their mental and emotional loss. It’s never easy to deal with the wrongful death of a loved one, but getting money for pain and suffering can help to ease the pain.

Lost Earnings

When a victim has dependents, such dependents will no longer receive the financial support they were entitled to. Because of the sudden and unexpected nature of wrongful deaths, the victim’s dependents will have no opportunity to secure alternative sources of income. This situation can be particularly upsetting for parents with children and those without resources.

The death of a family member who was also the primary breadwinner can be so traumatic that families lose their houses and other belongings. These liabilities shouldn’t be the family’s obligation. The victim’s family can avoid this dreadful outcome by hiring a Utah wrongful death attorney to save their house and comfort.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death in Utah

The rising number of wrongful death in Utah is a growing concern. While many people think about the effects of wrongful death on their loved ones, they may not realize that these cases can also hurt them. Before filing a wrongful death case against someone who caused the death of your loved one, make sure you know the common causes of wrongful death.

The following are some common causes of wrongful death in Utah:

Motor Vehicle Accidents


When a driver is careless or doesn’t pay attention and hits another car, a relaxing weekend trip or a pleasant commute to work can quickly go from bad to terrible. If someone else was careless and caused your loved one’s death in a motor vehicle accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Medical Malpractice

When you go to the doctor, you trust them to care for your health and well-being. But when they don’t do what they’re supposed to, and it hurts you, you can seek compensation. Also, if your loved one died because of insufficient medical care, you might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor or nurse. A Utah personal injury law firm could help. During a consultation, you can discuss a possible medical malpractice lawsuit to get compensation and hold the careless doctor or nurse accountable.

Criminal Activities


When a person dies because of a crime, the person’s family can sue for wrongful death. Some common crimes that lead to wrongful death are murder, driving while drunk, and, in some states, selling illegal drugs. When someone dies because of a crime, the victim’s family should try to get justice and get paid for their loss. Since civil and criminal courts are different, the victim’s family can still file a wrongful death suit even if they never brought criminal charges. A skilled Utah wrongful death attorney can get what the dead person’s family deserves.

Drowning Accidents

The victims or their families can sue the responsible parties for drowning. They may include inattentive supervisors and property owners. Death through carelessness and wrongful death are two common types of legal claims.

Depending on the circumstances, the responsible parties can reimburse the plaintiffs in drowning accidents for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. The victim’s family may be eligible to recover funeral expenses and lost financial help if the victim dies. Contact a wrongful death attorney if you know a family member or loved one who drowned recently.

Workplace Accidents


Like fast-moving cars on the road, construction zones and workplaces are full of risks. When someone drives recklessly in a construction zone, there is a high chance that they will get hurt or even die. At the same time, you have no control over what other people or workers do on the job site. If someone else makes a harmful or dangerous choice that hurts you, you may need a Utah wrongful death lawyer to help you.

Protect Your Rights and Get the Legal Help You Need


A wrongful death claim is a serious legal issue. Understandably, you might be reluctant to seek compensation for your loved one’s death. But if you decide to go through with it, don’t take action without consulting a Utah wrongful death lawyer first. These claims can be much more complicated than they appear at first glance, and there are many things to consider.

You should contact Parker + McConkie, no matter your legal issue. We want to help. With over 40 years of combined experience successfully handling cases,  you can find all the help you need. We know how important it is for you to find a solution quickly. From wrongful death caused by car accidents to criminal activities, we can help you succeed. Don’t wait. Contact us at (801) 708-0029 or use our online contact form. We’ll provide a free consultation and work with you every step.

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Schedule a Free Consultation Now By Contacting Our Team at (801) 980-9708