At Emerald City Law Group, our Seattle wrongful death lawyers understand how overwhelming this situation can be. On top of managing your grief, you have to face many important tasks. If you lost your loved one in an accident that you believe was someone else’s fault, then you face even more questions, such as whether or not you have the right to sue.
When you contact us today, our lawyers can help you receive compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one or family member. Following the unexpected loss of one of your close relatives, you may not be sure of what to do. Your family faces too many tasks while you try and process what happened. You have to make decisions you did not expect to make, including how your loved one wants to be laid to rest. You also have to face a challenging future without your relative’s financial support and love.
We are here to help. After listening to your story, we will answer your questions and address your concerns. We will advise you on your family’s legal rights and options, including whether you have a valid wrongful death claim or survival action. To discuss how we may be able to help, use our online form or call 206-973-0407 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Seattle wrongful death lawyers today.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a legal action against an individual, business, or municipality that is responsible for another person’s death. The at-fault party may be liable because they acted intentionally toward the decedent, though intentional misconduct or ill-intent is not necessary. Instead, the at-fault party may be responsible because they behaved negligently or recklessly, which in turn caused the incident that led to your loved one’s death.
Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Section 4.20.010, when a person’s death is caused by another party’s wrongful act, negligence, or failure to act, then the decedent’s personal representative can file an action on behalf of the surviving family members and pursue compensation.
Whether you have a valid wrongful death claim does not depend on whether the at-fault party committed a crime. A wrongful death claim is a civil action. Criminal charges may or may not also arise from the same incident. There are many instances in which a person is not guilty of a crime, yet is still civilly liable for compensating you for your relative’s death. If the at-faulty party is charged with a crime, you can pursue the wrongful death action at the same time the criminal case is going on.
If you are wondering if you’re able to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of your loved one, contact the King County wrongful death lawyers of Emerald City Law Group today.
Common Situations Leading to Wrongful Death Claims
You may lose a loved one in any unexpected situation. However, certain types of incidents are more likely to involve negligent and reckless conduct, making another party responsible for your relative’s death and liable for compensating you. Some of the most common causes of wrongful death claims are:
- Car Accidents – If another person caused a car accident that led to your relative’s death, then you may be able to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver. Call our Seattle wrongful death lawyers today to discuss your legal rights and options after a fatal car crash.
- Truck Accidents – Collisions involving commercial trucks are typically more complex than car accidents because of state and federal regulations as well as the high-tech nature of many semi-trucks. If you lost a loved one in a trucking accident, you need to speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
- Medical Malpractice – Despite the trust you and your relative placed in the health care system, a physician, nurse, or other provider’s carelessness could have led to your loved one’s death. If you believe a doctor, nurse, or someone else at a health care facility made a fatal error, call Emerald City Law Group immediately.
- Product Liability – Products offered for sale should be safe. Each year, products that are defectively designed, manufactured, or that lack appropriate warnings, are somehow put online or on store shelves. If you believe a defective product caused your loved one’s death, speak with an attorney immediately.
- Premises Liability/Slip and Fall – Property owners are generally responsible for keeping their property safe for other people, whether they are business customers, social guests, or members of the public. The only people property owners do not need to protect are trespassers. If your loved one was not a trespasser and was hurt or died because of a hazard on another party’s property, contact our wrongful death attorneys right away.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Washington law specifically states that a decedent’s personal representative may file an action for damages. Direct family members may also be able to file a wrongful death claim, if they are the decedent’s representative. This means a spouse, child, parent, or sibling may have the right to file a claim.
If you and your family are interested in filing a wrongful death claim, it is essential you speak with a wrongful death lawyer first. Whether or not you have a valid wrongful death claim depends on a number of factors. Also, whether or not you or other relatives may benefit from the compensation depends on your relationships to the decedent. If none of you are direct family members and were not financially dependent on your loved one, then none of you may be entitled to damages.
Potential Wrongful Death Damages
RCW 4.20.020 states that in any wrongful death action, the jury may give such damages as they believe just. This can include compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, including but not limited to:
- Remaining medical expenses
- Funeral costs
- Loss of decedent’s financial support
- Loss of decedent’s employment benefits, including health insurance
- Loss of decedent’s retirement benefits
- Loss of decedent’s companionship and society
- Relative’s emotional distress
- Spouse’s loss of an intimate relationship
Beneficiaries of Wrongful Death Compensation
If a personal representative obtains compensation through a wrongful death action, then according to RCW 4.20.020, the compensation is intended to benefit the surviving spouse, lawful domestic partner, and children. Spouses and children do not have to prove they were financially dependent on the decedent to obtain damages.
If your relative who passed away did not have a spouse, domestic partner, or any children, then the compensation is for the benefit of their any parent or sibling who was dependent on them for financial support. If a parent or sibling was not financially dependent on the decedent, then they cannot recover damages.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
You typically have three years in Washington to file a wrongful death claim. When this three-year period begins and ends can depend on a few factors. The clock almost always begins to run on the date of your loved one’s death. However, if your family did not learn that your relative’s death may have been the result of negligence or intentional misconduct until later, then the clock may begin to run on the date you learned you may have the right to file a legal claim.
Wrongful Death Claims Differ from Survival Actions
Wrongful death claims are different than survival actions. A wrongful death claim is about pursing compensation for you and your relative’s injuries, which you have suffered because of your loved one’s death. A survival action is a legal action based on your loved one’s rights and seeks compensation for their injuries.
If your loved one was hurt in an accident because of someone else’s carelessness, recklessness, or intentional misconduct, then a personal injury claim arises out of that situation. If your loved one had survived the accident, then they would have had the right to file this wrongful death claim. However, since they passed away, this cause of action survives and goes to the estate.
The personal representative for your loved one’s estate decides whether to continue with the personal injury action on behalf of your loved one. If the representative moves forward with the claim, they can pursue compensation for your relative’s pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, and humiliation.
Let Our Seattle Wrongful Death Lawyers Help
Heading into a difficult insurance claim process or lawsuit is likely the last thing you want to do in the wake of a loved one’s passing. However, it may be the right step for you and your family. While a successful claim cannot bring your loved one back, it can provide the financial assistance you need to get through this difficult period in your life. A wrongful death lawsuit may also be the only way to hold the other party responsible and possibly save someone else from experiencing the same fate.
At Emerald City Law Group, our goal is to lift the burden of the legal process from your shoulders. We will be your representatives to the insurance company and your voice in court. When you contact us today, our Seattle wrongful death lawyers will handle the legal tasks and stressful communications so that you can concentrate on taking care of yourself and your family.
Start With a 100% Free Wrongful Death Case Evaluation Today
How a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
After any serious accident, there’s a lot to consider. But you don’t need to go through it alone.
At Emerald City Law Group, we know you are in pain and unsure about how to pay your bills. Even enjoying everyday activities can sometimes be taken away. This would be a lot for anyone and that’s why out personal injury attorneys are here to help with the burden you’re facing.
From dealing with insurance companies to helping determine liability, and all the way through a trial if necessary, we are prepared for whatever comes your way, so you get the financial security and peace of mind you need to properly recover. If you have been injured in an accident in King County, Washington or any surrounding area, you deserve justice and compensation. Contact Emerald City Law Group today at 206-973-0407.