Wrongful Death Attorney Serving Seattle, Washington
Please note that our services specifically address situations involving physical injuries, neglect, and abuse experienced by elderly individuals in nursing homes and other care facilities.
We do not handle cases related to financial exploitation or poor housing conditions where someone might be taking advantage of an elderly person.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Washington State?
"Wrongful death" is defined by Washington State as the loss of a person caused by neglect, a wrongful act, or a default on the part of another party. A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury case, in which the negligence of another party (either a person or an entity) created conditions that opened up another person to harm.
Surviving family members of the victim have the right to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensatory damages from the at-fault party. Compensation that would have gone to the victim — such as medical bills and loss of income — is instead recoverable by immediate family members.
A Seattle wrongful death accident lawyer works with the representative of the victim’s estate to file the wrongful death lawsuit.
Most Common Seattle Wrongful Death Accidents Causes
Circumstances of a wrongful death accident vary widely, but all wrongful deaths share one commonality: negligence. Car wrecks, catastrophic injuries on the job, or severe medical malpractice are among the most common wrongful death cases that our Washington wrongful death attorneys litigate, but they aren’t the only ones.
Other accidents that can lead to wrongful death include:
- Commercial semitruck collisions;
- Cycling or pedestrian accidents;
- Logging or construction accidents;
- Medical misdiagnoses;
- Defective consumer products;
- Toxic exposure.
If you have lost a family member in a tragic accident, talk to a wrongful death attorney in Washington about your legal options.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Washington State?
Washington law limits the parties that can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Even if you loved the victim very much, you cannot file a wrongful death claim if you are not their:
- Legally-wed spouse, life partner, or common law spouse;
- Parent (adoptive or biological);
- Child (adopted or biological);
- Financial dependent.
In a few limited situations, the siblings or grandparents may file a wrongful death action. For example, anyone who depended on the deceased financially may be eligible to pursue a lawsuit, but they will have to demonstrate how they depended on the victim.
This is just one of the many regulations governing wrongful death claims law in the state. It’s important to consult with a Seattle wrongful death attorney with experience litigating serious cases like yours.
The personal representative of the deceased’s estate or the executor of the will can also file a wrongful death claim for economic damages. They may not file for non-economic damages unless they are a close relative of the deceased. In these cases, the settlement from the claim will become part of the estate.
Parents of a minor child who can prove that they financially supported the child may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a child killed because of negligence. Married parents file jointly, while divorced parents may file independent lawsuits, but they must notify the other parent’s Seattle wrongful death lawyer within 20 days of filing.
Who May Be Sued for a Wrongful Death in Seattle?
For a valid wrongful death action in Washington, several elements must be met:
- The death of a human being resulted from the incident;
- The death was caused by negligence (of an individual or entity) or through intentional harm;
- The deceased left behind family members who will suffer financial and emotional loss.
All of these conditions must be met for a wrongful death claim, in addition to proving that the defendant (the at-fault party) met the legal requirements for negligence.
A Washington wrongful death lawyer can name either a person or a recognized entity as a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit, and in some cases, multiple defendants may be involved, including:
- A builder or architect of dangerous premises, like a road or building;
- The manufacturer or designer of a consumer product, including cars and electronics;
- Any party providing alcohol to an impaired driver (restaurants, bars, or liquor stores);
- A construction company that failed to ensure proper safety protocols;
- A business owner who permitted unsafe conditions to persist.
In some cases, a municipal, state, or federal government entity may be named in a wrongful death suit, but these cases can become even more complicated.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit in Washington?
A statute of limitations is the legal timeframe that limits how long a wronged party has to file a suit. The statute of limitations in Washington for a wrongful death suit is three years from the date of the deceased’s death.
Wrongful death claims that are filed after the statute of limitations are usually dismissed; if you miss the window for filing, you cannot file a suit. You don't have to be ready for court right after filing — your wrongful death attorney in Seattle can file a case in time and continue to collect evidence.
Compensations Available for Your Wrongful Death Case
A wrongful death case, especially if the defendant is a major corporation, healthcare provider, or government organization, can be much more complicated than a general personal injury case. You can best protect your legal interests by working with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Seattle from Lehmbecker Law.
The compensation you may be entitled to depend on the facts of your case, although many plaintiffs can seek financial recovery for:
- Emotional distress and mental anguish;
- Medical expenses of your loved one after the accident;
- Cost of the funeral and burial;
- Loss of companionship and consortium;
- Loss of guidance for minor children;
- Loss of income and support, including loss of pensions or retirement contributions.
In some cases, a plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages if the judge decides that the defendant’s behavior was especially egregious. It’s important to note that very few wrongful death settlements in Washington include punitive damages.
Why You Should Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Seattle
No amount of money can replace your family member, and many families understandably feel uncomfortable about filing a lawsuit after a loved one's death. However, you and your loved one deserve justice, and the at-fault party should be held accountable for their actions.
An experienced wrongful death attorney in Seattle, WA, can help you seek the compensation you deserve and navigate the legal process.
Your Seattle wrongful death attorneys will:
- Provide knowledgeable guidance tailored to your situation;
- Accurately value your claim;
- File all legal documents promptly;
- Conduct an independent investigation into the true cause of your loved one’s death;
- Handle all contact with the other party;
- Negotiate with the other party in mediation;
- Defend your interests in court.
You and your family deserve to grieve privately, and we do our best to shield you from combative insurance companies and defendants. We treat you with the compassion and dignity you deserve during this difficult time.
Why Choose Our Seattle, WA, Wrongful Death Law Firm?
Lehmbecker Law provides a personal, compassionate touch and a tenacious defense of your legal rights. We offer:
At Lehmbecker Law, we relentlessly pursue justice for victims like you. We believe in holding negligent people and corporations accountable for their actions.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney in Washington State
At Lehmbecker Law, initial wrongful death lawsuit consultations with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Seattle are complimentary. Please fill out our contact form online or call our office directly.
Let Us Pursue Justice for Your Loved One
Seek justice for your loved one with our experienced wrongful death lawyers. Schedule your free consultation today!
Thoughtful listening and understanding of your complex situation
Thorough building of your case with all necessary documentation (medical records, police reports, and insurance policies)
Smart strategy for negotiation and litigation
Let Our Seattle Wrongful Death Lawyers Help Today
To learn how the team at Lehmbecker Law can help you and your family after a fatal accident, contact a wrongful death attorney in Seattle for a complimentary case review.
Our Wrongful Death Lawyers
Larry A. Lehmbecker
Verdicts and Settlements
Areas We Serve
Start with a Free Wrongful Death Accident Case Evaluation Today
Seattle Wrongful Death FAQs
What’s the average wrongful death settlement in WA?
Awards from wrongful death settlements can vary widely, so there is no reliable average to quote. Many factors can impact the value of your case, and we will discuss them with you at your initial consultation. Your loved one’s age and earning potential, medical bills from the accident, and the limits of the defendant’s insurance policy all come into play.
Are wrongful death settlements taxable in Washington state?
No, the potential economic and non-economic damages you may receive from a successful wrongful death suit will not be considered taxable income as per the IRS and the Washington State Department of Revenue. If you are awarded punitive damages, however (they are rare in Washington), the IRS will tax those.
What is the difference between wrongful death and survival action?
Wrongful death lawsuits are an option for specific deceased relatives to receive compensatory damages for the loss of their loved one and the emotional impact of the accident. A survival action, on the other hand, is a lawsuit awarding surviving relatives any financial compensation from a personal injury claim that their loved one would have filed if they had lived.
Who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit in Washington State?
The actual recipient of the settlement award is the estate of the deceased and the estate’s representative. The personal representative of the estate is responsible for allocating the estate (including monies from a wrongful death lawsuit) as per the directive of the deceased and according to all Washington probate laws.