Washington State Wrongful Death Laws

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If you’ve lost a beloved family member in an accident, or because of violence, you are likely very upset and in the process of grieving. You may be considering filing a wrongful death claim because you know that what’s happened to your loved one isn’t right.

Yes, you can seek justice on behalf of your lost family member, and you can be compensated for the financial expenses you’ve likely incurred because of his or her death. You are probably in need of some information on the laws in Washington regarding wrongful death claims.

What is a Wrongful Death Case?

Washington state statute defines a wrongful death claim as a civil lawsuit that is filed when a person has died or been killed and it was because of the “wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”

Whenever someone else caused the death of another, that person can be held legally accountable for the damages caused to the victim and the victim’s family. The at-fault party can also be pursued in criminal court depending on the circumstances of the case, but that is a separate matter.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case in Washington?

In the state of Washington, here are the people that are eligible to file a wrongful death case:

  • The deceased person’s spouse or domestic partner
  • The children/stepchildren of the deceased person or the children/stepchildren of the deceased person’s spouse/domestic partner
  • If none of the above then parents and siblings may file a claim

How Long Do You Have to File a Case?

In most civil cases you have a timeframe for filing your case called the statute of limitations. With wrongful death claims you are given three years from the date of the deceased person’s death in which to file your claim. Should you fail to file the claim within this time period, you will forfeit all rights to compensation arising from a potential claim.

What Types of Compensation Can be Awarded in a Wrongful Death Claim?

One of the main reasons to file a wrongful death claim is to obtain compensation for the family members of the victim who have likely been burdened financially and emotionally because of the death of their loved one. The following are some of the damages that can be awarded to the family of the victim in a wrongful death case:

  • Medical bills stemming from the accident or wrongful act that led to death
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost income that the deceased would likely have earned had he or she not been killed
  • Damages for the pain and emotional trauma caused by the death
  • Any related property damage
  • Loss of care and companionship

Do You Need a Wrongful Death Attorney?

Most people can’t file a wrongful death claim on their own and need an attorney’s help. Here’s a listing to get you started in the search for an attorney that can help you with your case: Seattle wrongful death attorneys Craig Swapp & Associates.