The loss of a loved one is the hardest injury that an individual can suffer. In early common law, the ability to recover from the loss of a loved one was not recognized. This was based-off the theory that since the individual had now passed, they had no ability to be represented by an an attorney. However, through a morph of intestate law and personal injury law, families and heirs in the U.S. and in Utah are now able to recover for an individual that has now passed.
This also helps grant relief for family members that are still living that are grieving the loss of a loved one and relief for the deceased and what they suffered from passing one. The estate of the loved one can also recover damages for wages and other compensation that individual would-have received if they had still been living. The estate can also seek punitive damages, which is like a fine for the wrongful death against the individual to deter from future events like what occurred from happening again and for a fine for what happened on that particular occasion.
The estate can also recover medical bills, funeral expenses and other related costs incurred. If the individual that passed was a minor child, the parents can act as the trustee representing the deceased. Also, there is no cap on punitive damage recovery in wrongful death cases. Wrongful death may also tie into other types of claims depending on what caused the death, for example, if the death was caused by a product, there may be a product’s liability claim, if the death was caused by a hospital, there may be a medical malpractice claim, if it was the cause of a police officer, there may be a civil rights claim.
However, if the death was as a result of an incident that occurred at work, the death can be limited to what is allowed under the Utah Worker’s Compensation Act, but if the death occurred while on a product, there still may be a claim against the manufacturer of the product. These cases can be complex and are additionally hard due to the emotional trauma of losing a loved one. We can help guide you through the case you need to recover.
Below is the Utah Statute that explains the ability for an individual to recover on behalf of a loved one:
78B-3-106 Death of a person -- Suit by heir or personal representative.
(1) Except as provided in Title 34A, Chapter 2, Workers' Compensation Act, when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another, his heirs, or his personal representatives for the benefit of his heirs, may maintain an action for damages against the person causing the death, or, if the person is employed by another person who is responsible for his conduct, then against the other person.
(2) If the adult person has a guardian at the time of his death, only one action may be maintained for the person's injury or death.
(3) The action may be brought by either the personal representatives of the adult deceased person, for the benefit of the person's heirs, or by the guardian for the benefit of the heirs, as defined in Section 78B-3-105.
(4) In every action under this section and Section 78B-3-105 damages may be given as under all the circumstances of the case may be just.