Who Can Sue for Personal Injury In Utah?
If you have been injured or know someone who was injured, you may be considering suing. If you were the one who was injured, you can go forward, confident that you will be able to sue. But what if you are the spouse of the injured person? What if your child was the one who was injured? Are you allowed to sue on a friend’s behalf if they are too injured to do it themselves?
Darwin Overson has been Utah personal injury attorney for over thirty years, and he’ll be answering these questions and more:
Can You Sue on Behalf of Someone Else?
The most obvious person who can sue is the person who was injured. They are able to go to court and sue, on their own behalf, for injuries they sustained. Other than that, the law has pretty clear guidelines as to when others are able to sue.
If someone dies, and the lawsuit is because of the injury that lead to their death, only their spouse, children, parents, or another blood relative who will inherit under Utah’s inheritance laws can sue on their behalf in Utah. Those people are also considered harmed in their own right by the loss of the loved one, so there are damages for their losses as well.
What if a family member did not die, but was injured? Parents are always allowed to bring a lawsuit in the name of their children, if their children are under 18 and in their care. Similarly, if someone is mentally handicapped or otherwise incapable of appreciating their situation, a court may be able to appoint someone as their legal guardian or appoint a special “guardian ad litem” who can sue on their behalf.
If the injured person is not covered by one of the above situations, then you cannot sue on their behalf. They might be able to join in your lawsuit, which means you combine forces with the other people to sue a responsible party. You may also be able to start a class action lawsuit, which is when a large group (called a “class”) of injured people ban together to sue the party responsible for their injuries – usually a manufacturer of a product.
In any other case where you did not suffer injury yourself – whether it be financial or physical – you are not allowed to sue. There is a legal rule called “standing,” which says that you must have suffered some harm in order to sue. Additionally, the harm must have actually happened. If it has not occurred yet (or only might occur), you cannot sue. If the harm has already occurred, but there is nothing a court can do to correct it, you might also be blocked from suing. Note, though, that that does not apply to physical injuries – they can always be compensated financially, even if that does not truly “fix” the injuries.
Am I Injured Enough to Sue?
There is absolutely no threshold that needs to be met in order to sue someone for your injuries. You can legally sue someone who caused you injury in an accident or by intentional acts no matter how severe the injury. Everyone experiences pain and suffering differently, so even small injuries might be severe to you.
The only thing that might limit your ability to sue is the question of “Is it worth it?” A lawsuit can be a long, expensive process. That means it might not be worth suing if you will lose money on the suit. This is not at all a legal limit to suing for personal injury – you are certainly still allowed to sue.
Do I Need to Hire a Salt Lake City Personal Injury Lawyer?
Technically, anyone can go to court and act as their own lawyer, whether they have training or not. If that happens, though, the person is held to the same standards of professionalism, the same deadlines, and the same rules of procedure and evidence as if they were a lawyer.
Lawyers have years of training in law school, have passed a test in order to get admitted to the bar, and continue to train and practice every year to keep their certification. If you are considering suing for personal injury, do not try it alone.
Many lawyers require no payment up front, and are only paid if they win your case. Do not hesitate to seek help instead of trying a complicated lawsuit by yourself.
If you are considering suing – either for your own injuries or the injuries or death of a close family member – talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer about your case. Overson Law, PLLC and Salt Lake City personal injury lawyer Darwin Overson work in Utah to fight for our clients’ and their personal injury claims. For a free, no obligations consultation, contact us at (801) 618-5380.