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Wrongful Death Claim: The Basics

A wrongful death case is one of the more difficult types of cases in the field of personal injury law. Each state has individual and complex laws that require knowledge and understanding. This knowledge can be applied to those laws and how the courts interpret them.

What Is A Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is defined under Utah Law (Code section 73B-3-106) as taking the life of an individual by a wrongful act, neglect, or default (intentional or unintentional) of another party (person, persons, or entity). A wrongful death claim is the legal action brought by a close family member or personal representative of the estate of the deceased or the victim of the negligent action against the person or entity that caused the death.

Pink Coffin at GraveWhen a death happens there are two types of legal actions, civil action or criminal prosecution. Wrongful death would fall under the claim of civil action. This means there is only one remedy which is to collect monetary damages from the at-fault party. When a criminal case is filed, the remedy is not monetary, but it means punishment for the offender, which includes prison time and fees.

Wrongful deaths can occur because of: medical mistakes, car accidents, airplane accidents, animal attacks, criminal attacks, work-related injuries, failure to supervise, exposure to dangerous chemicals, medical neglect, etc.

A wrongful death can be caused by a government entity, corporation, or an individual. The wrongful act could be a procedure or a policy that causes a death, or an action by an employee who represents a corporation. Sometimes there is no one that is negligent; the death can be caused by the person's own actions.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

According to Utah Code section 78B-3-105, the heirs who may file a wrongful death claim are:

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

Utah Law allows for damages recovered in a successful death case as such:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses related to the deceased persons final injury or illness
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of care, companionship, guidance
  • Punitive damages

It is highly recommended to hire an attorney if you have a wrongful death case. Remember, these procedures are complex. It is very important to consult with an attorney who has precise and satisfactory experience with litigating wrongful death cases.

If a wrongful death has affected your life, call Lowe Law Group. Our attorneys know the Utah Laws and will help guide you through this process so you can take the time you need to grieve.