Peter W. Summerill

Utah Trial Attorney

July 2020

Wrongful Death Claims in Utah

Utah Wrongful Death Law - What Kind of Claims are there for Wrongful Death?


Often, heirs and loved ones left behind following a death may not even be aware of the possibility that a claim for the death exists. General negligence, defective products, big rig trucking crashes, medical malpractice or work place accidents can potentially result in a wrongful death case. In Utah, there may be not just one, but two causes of action or lawsuits that can be asserted. First, there may be a claim for the estate of the individual who died and, second, there may be a claim for the individual heirs.

Claims of the Estate


The estate can bring a claim for pain, suffering and economic losses due to the death of the individual. These types of claim include damages for an individual who generally does not pass away immediately but rather suffers for some length of time before dying. One example would be a missed diagnosis of cancer which causes the victim to endure more invasive medical treatments and additional pain and suffering while there are attempts made to save their life. However, pain and suffering damages could also be claimed in cases of, for example, drowning, where the victim suffers pain and fear prior to death. Damages such as these would be included in claims that are held by the decedent's estate and would be pursued by a personal representative.

Claims of the Heirs


Each heir has their own separate claim due to the wrongful death of a loved one. Heirs in Utah include children, spouses and parents. The damages for wrongful death heirs include the loss of love, society, companionship and counsel. These claims are held individually by each heir. But, because there can only be a single cause of action for wrongful death, all heirs are joined under a single lawsuit.

As always, if you or someone you know has a potential wrongful death case, try to talk with an attorney as soon as possible. It is essential that an attorney be consulted to avoid loss of evidence, running of statute of limitations, and to preserve the claim of the heirs and the estate in wrongful death cases since Utah, like many other states, has unique requirements that must be followed in order to preserve the claim.

Top 100 High Stakes Litigator

Peter Summerill added as America's Top 100 High Stakes Litigators 2020.