Serious accidents can sometimes lead to the death of a loved one. In some cases, when you lose a family member due to the careless behavior of another, you may have the right to file a wrongful death suit. Our Seattle wrongful death lawyer could assist family members with determining their rights and helping them find out if they have a case. Contact an experienced civil attorney to learn how we can help.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a claim against someone who can be held liable for a death that they caused due to their negligent or intentional behavior, such as in a deadly car crash. Wrongful death cases are brought in civil court, and in Washington, there is a three-year statute of limitations on filing such a suit. This means that lawsuits must be filed within three years or the right to sue is lost forever.
It is important to contact an experienced Seattle attorney, as soon as possible after a loved one’s untimely passing. That way your attorney can be certain to protect your rights, and if appropriate, file a suit for you before the statute of limitations has passed.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
In 2019, Washington passed a new law regarding filing suits for wrongful death damages. The law is very specific on who can sue. The law creates two tiers of claimants. The first tier consists of a spouse or domestic partner, and any children. The second tier consists of parents or siblings, but only if there is no one in the first tier. This means that if you lose your adult child, but that child has a spouse or children, you may not file a wrongful death claim. However, if your adult child has no spouse or children, you may file such a claim.
The law allows for four types of wrongful death and survival actions:
- General Wrongful Death Action: a personal representative of the deceased may bring a suit on behalf of beneficiaries. A jury may award actual financial losses, as well as an amount for other losses, such as support, love, and affection.
- Wrongful Death of a Child Action: A parent(s) or legal guardian may sue for the loss of a child, whether that child was a minor or an adult, as long as that parent had significant involvement in the child’s life, providing emotional, psychological, and/or financial support. A jury may award for medical bills, and other intangible losses, such as the loss of a child’s love and companionship.
- General Survival Action: Any suit a deceased person would have brought, had they not passed away, can be brought by their estate. Recovered losses may include earnings, medical and funeral expenses, pain, and suffering.
- Special Survival Action: A personal representative of the deceased may sue for personal injuries that resulted in the decedent’s death, recovering damages on behalf of beneficiaries. Losses, awarded by a jury, are specified to be economic losses, as well as non-economic damages, limited to the decedent’s pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, or humiliation.
Speak with a Seattle Wrongful Death Attorney Now
If you have suffered the traumatizing death of a loved one, contact a Seattle wrongful death lawyer. Our attorneys are experienced in handling these claims. We will help you navigate the complexities of your case, answer any questions you have, and help you deal with the difficulties ahead. While no amount can ever replace your loved one, obtaining just compensation, and holding at-fault parties responsible, can go a long way in assisting a family’s journey forward.