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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Utah?

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Posted on March 8, 2024

In the wake of a loved one’s unexpected passing, families face a deep well of grief and confusion, especially when the death is the result of someone else’s negligence. Under Utah law, specific individuals are granted the privilege to step forward and file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their loved one

These lawsuits allow families to hold the perpetrator accountable and claim compensation that can provide critical support during this difficult time. However, only certain people may file a wrongful death claim in Utah, so it is essential to understand these eligibility rules before initiating the case.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit arises when a person’s death is the result of the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another. Essentially, it occurs when a person dies due to the fault of another person or entity, whether through a negligence-based event like a car accident, medical malpractice, or intentional conduct—including criminal acts.

Wrongful death claims are very similar to personal injury lawsuits. However, in wrongful death cases, the victims cannot bring the lawsuit themselves. Consequently, another party must file the case in civil court on behalf of the deceased and the family members who suffered harm due to their death.

In the event a loved one has passed due to someone else’s negligence, contact our wrongful death attorneys in St. George today.

Utah Permits Heirs and Personal Representatives to File

In Utah, a wrongful death claim must be initiated by the deceased person’s heirs or the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. The personal representative is typically named in the deceased’s will.

According to Utah law, heirs eligible to file include:

  • The surviving spouse
  • Surviving children, including adoptive children
  • Surviving parents, including adoptive parents
  • Surviving stepchildren, if under 18 at the time of the stepparent’s death and financially dependent on the deceased

If none of these individuals survive, other blood relatives may file the claim. Additionally, if the deceased was an adult under guardianship, the legal guardian may present the wrongful death claim to the court.

Who Benefits from a Wrongful Death Claim?

In a wrongful death lawsuit, an eligible individual files the claim for the benefit of the deceased’s estate and surviving family members. This means that all damages awarded in the case will be divided between the beneficiaries. 

These parties may include:

  • Immediate Family Members: This group primarily consists of the deceased’s surviving spouse, children (including legally adopted children), and parents. They are considered direct beneficiaries and have the first right to any compensation awarded in a wrongful death claim.
  • Financial Dependents: Anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased at the time of their death may be entitled to compensation. This category can extend beyond immediate family members to include other relatives or even non-relatives who can prove financial dependency.
  • Extended Family Members: If there are no surviving immediate family members or financial dependents, extended family members such as siblings, grandparents, and aunts or uncles of the deceased may be eligible to claim benefits. 

Speak to a Wrongful Death Attorney to Discuss Your Options

Navigating a wrongful death claim can be complex and emotionally taxing, which is why an attorney’s support is crucial. They can provide comprehensive guidance on your legal rights and options, ensuring you understand the process and can make informed decisions. To learn more about the process, contact a St. George personal injury lawyer and take your first steps toward justice.