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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Oct 14, 2015 @ 11:00 AM — by Lynn Harris
Tagged with: Wrongful Death | Personal Injury |

A young girl kneeling at the grave of a relative lost to wrongful deathIf you have recently lost someone you love due to someone else’s negligent or deliberately wrongful actions, then you are certainly struggling with a variety of emotions, not least of which is anger. At such a confusing and frustrating time, filing a wrongful death lawsuit may feel more like a punishing burden than a necessary means of protecting both your rights and the rights of your deceased loved one. However, because the state of Utah has established in its statute of limitations that you must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the passing of your loved one (one year if the defendant is a government entity), time is unfortunately not on your side. You need to understand your legal rights and options as soon as possible, and experienced personal injury attorney Lynn C. Harris can provide you with the counsel you need during this difficult time.

One of the most common questions Mr. Harris is asked is “Who can file a wrongful death suit?” As the Provo personal injury attorney explains, each state has its own laws regarding this matter, and Utah is no exception.

If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence and would like to arrange for an evaluation of your potential wrongful death case, please contact Lynn C. Harris at the law firm of Jones Waldo today.

Who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Utah?

In the state of Utah, a wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by an heir of the deceased person or the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. Unless the deceased person has an estate plan that specifies otherwise, the state presumes that an heir will assume the role of personal representative of the estate.

Under Utah state law, an heir is defined as:

  • The surviving spouse
  • The surviving adult children
  • The surviving parents, whether biological or adoptive
  • The surviving stepchildren, if under the age of 18 at the time of the deceased person’s death and if they were financially dependent upon the deceased person at that time

If none of the above-listed heirs exist, then the state will allow a lawsuit to be filed by a blood relative as recognized by Utah’s inheritance laws.

Only one wrongful death lawsuit may be filed, although it may be filed on behalf of multiple parties by a single representative. Mr. Harris helps his clients to identify the full measure of damages that should be sought in the suit, as once the case has been settled or tried to verdict, further damages cannot be sought. Wrongful death lawsuits are unique in that both past and future damages can be sought, including compensation for:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost past and future wages and benefits
  • Pain and suffering endured by both the deceased person and surviving family members
  • Loss of companionship, guidance, and consortium
  • Other demonstrable losses and expenses

Learn More about Wrongful Death Lawsuits

To learn more about wrongful death lawsuits, please contact our personal injury law firm today.

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