A Wrongful Death claim refers to a claim for damages where someone’s death was caused by the negligent or intentional actions of another person or entity. The wrongful death statute in Washington defines wrongful death as the “death of a person caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”
For example, wrongful death claims may result from a death caused by any of the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Pedestrian or bicycle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Defective products
- Abuse, negligence, or neglect
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Washington State, wrongful death claims must be pursued by the executor or personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. This requires the filing of a probate action.
In Washington, the beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim include:
- The spouse or registered domestic partner of the deceased
- The deceased’s children or stepchildren
- The estate of the deceased person
- The parents of a deceased minor child
- The parents of an adult child, if the parents were dependent upon that child for support.
What Compensation May be Recovered in Wrongful Death Cases
The spouse, domestic partner, and children of a deceased person can recover both economic damages as well as non-economic damages for the loss of their loved one. Economic damages involve a calculation of the lifetime economic support that the deceased person would have provided to his family. Non-economic damages include many nontangible losses resulting from the death of one’s spouse, partner or parent.
Where the deceased had no spouse, domestic partner, or child, wrongful death damages are limited to economic damages. This often limits the amount of compensation greatly, particularly for young victims, as it is often very hard to demonstrate economic losses for persons who have not established a career.
How a Lawyer Can Help
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the first step to a successful case is proving that the at-fault party was responsible for the death. Proving responsibility requires proving three things: duty, breach, and causation.
First, your legal team will need to prove that the person you are suing had a duty to the deceased. Second, your lawyer will need to prove that the duty was breached. And finally, your lawyer must connect the breach of duty to the death.
The next step for your legal team is to establish the losses and damages to the family as a result of the wrongful death. This often requires gathering extensive testimony from family, friends and coworkers. It also typically requires accounting and economic experts to calculate the amount of economic losses. The assistance of an experienced wrongful death attorney is crucial to establish all elements of the claimj and maximize the recovery for damages.
If you have lost someone you love due to wrongful death, fight for your financial future and the compensation you deserve with the help of the Seattle-area wrongful death attorneys at Lehmbecker Law. Start your free case review today.