Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Utah?

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Utah?

The decision to file a lawsuit for damages in the death of a loved one is a difficult one. No one wants to feel like he is benefiting from a tragedy, but when someone else’s mistake or negligence caused the death, the person at fault should be held responsible for the financial wellbeing of the family members who are left behind. When the actions of a drunk or reckless driver kill an innocent driver, passenger, motorcyclist, pedestrian, or bicyclist, it’s important to know who has the right to pursue damages on his or her behalf.

Rights and Restrictions in Utah

In Utah, an accidental death—also known as a wrongful death—is one caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another party. Some examples include car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and dog attacks, where the negligent actions of another party led to the incident that killed someone.

Just as in a personal injury case, the at-fault party can be held accountable through monetary damages. However, Utah—like all other states—places a limit on who can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. In Utah, the heirs of the deceased, or the personal representative as named in an estate plan, can file suit. Heirs are considered to be:

  • The surviving spouse
  • The surviving adult children
  • The surviving parent or parents, including adoptive parents
  • The surviving stepchildren, if they are under 18 and were financially dependent on the deceased
  • Other blood relatives as listed in Utah’s inheritance laws

Unlike in a criminal case where a prosecutor must file charges, in a wrongful death case one of the heirs must file the suit in civil court. Generally, the suit is filed by an heir in the order listed above. In other words, the surviving spouse would be the designated heir to file, but if the deceased has no surviving spouse, adult children may file. If the deceased had no children, his or her parents may file.

William Enoch Andrews Can Walk You Through This Complicated Process

If you have lost a loved one upon whom you were financially dependent in an accident that was not his or her fault, you may have grounds for an accidental death claim. With the guidance of an experienced accidental death attorney, you can start to put the pieces of your life back together. Do not hesitate to contact Mr. Andrews for a free consultation via the link on this page.