When a person unjustly dies due to an act by another there may be a claim for wrongful death. This type of personal injury action seeks to compensate family members for losses related to the death. However, there are very strict rules which dictate how and when such a claim can be filed. Here, we'll review the process as it exists under Utah law.
A Brief Overview
Personal injury lawsuits, such as wrongful death, are civil actions. This means that they are filed with and ruled upon by the civil court in your jurisdiction. Many situations involved in a wrongful death claim with also involve a criminal case. Civil cases for wrongful death can be initiated during a pending criminal action. An experienced lawyer who handles personal injury cases will help you determine the right time to file.
What is a Wrongful Death?
Under Utah law the term "wrongful death" has a specific definition. Section 78B-3-106(1) of the Utah Code describes it as a death by the "wrongful act or neglect" of another. This means that the defendant can cause the death through a negligent act or an intentional one. Some situations involving wrongful death include drunk driving accidents or botched surgeries that lead to the patient's death.
Potential Plaintiffs in a Wrongful Death Case
Only certain individuals can file for wrongful death. The list includes the decedent's family members (or heirs) or the estate representative. Legal guardians also qualify to file the lawsuit. Section 78B-3-105 of the Utah Code lists potential plaintiffs.
Dealing With Damages
There are several types of damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death case. The heir or estate representative can request damages for funeral costs, pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of consortium. It may also be possible to get punitive damages if the situation supports it.
Help With Wrongful Death Lawsuits
To learn more about possible damages consult with the experienced attorneys Spencer & Jensen, PLLC for a consultation.