Law Office of Ralph C. Petty

What Damages Are Survivors Entitled To In Wrongful Death Claims?


Survivors are entitled to compensation for the loss of their relationship with the deceased. In some situations, the deceased may have been supporting the survivor. The specific monetary obligation of the deceased to support a surviving spouse or a minor child is usually significantly higher than the obligation to support the adult children who were outside of the home, even though they are the children of the deceased.

Adult children have damages related to the loss of parental influence, parental relationship, parental guidance, comfort and future support in the event of illness or other needs. Many times, there are parental supports that are either in place or promised or implied that can have an effect on the amount of the recovery. The attorney establishes the nature of the relationship and can determine the value.

How Is The Amount Of Damages Actually Calculated?

In the survival action, the relationship between each survivor and the deceased is assessed. The earnings of the deceased, and how those earnings were used, may affect the ultimate division between the survivors. For example, whether the deceased was supporting others with his earnings will affect the distribution to the survivors. There is no way to really quantify the value of the lost relationship with the deceased. Usually, the survivors, many of whom are similarly situated, will be willing to accept the same amount from the estate. Those who are more dependant on the relationship with the deceased may be entitled to a larger share of the estate proceeds. It generally boils down to what a jury is likely to award, and what the individual who has lost that relationship is willing to accept. Each situation is dependant on the facts. Balancing all of the competing interests of the survivors requires an experienced attorney who can bring the survivors to a consensus.

In A Case With Multiple Heirs, How Are The Damages Divided?

The damages can be divided with the agreement of all of the heirs. That agreement will specifically designate the sum that each survivor will receive from the estate. Without an agreement, the court will have to determine the division of the estate between the survivors after they have presented evidence of their relationships with the deceased.

Should Multiple Heirs Hire Separate Attorneys?

If the survivors cannot agree on the division of the estate, then each survivor should hire his or her own attorney.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Filing A Wrongful Death Claim?

In Utah, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years.

How Long Do Wrongful Death Claims Generally Take To Get Resolved?

Depending on the heirs and the circumstances, it may take as long as two years to resolve a wrongful death claim. If liability for the death is contested, the proceeding may take longer. When liability is obvious and survivors all consent and cooperate, then the case can be resolved in a matter of months.

What Sets You And Your Firm Apart In Handling Wrongful Death Claims?

What sets us apart is our experience in bringing the parties together to a mutually advantageous resolution. If there is a disagreement, however, we also have experience in establishing the extent and value of the survivor’s relationship with the deceased. We not only portray the relationships between the deceased and the survivor, but we find corroborating witnesses, records, and evidence to value those relationships. We have the experience to quantify the unquantifiable relationship with a deceased party. That takes experience, creativity and perseverance.

For more information on Damages In A Wrongful Death Claim, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 783-1111 today.

Ralph C. Petty, ESQ.

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(801) 783-1111

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