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What Is Wrongful Death?

  1. What Is Necessary to Win a Wrongful Death Case?
  2. What Types of Cases Support Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
  3. Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
  4. What Damages Are Available in a Washington Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
  5. What Considerations Could Bolster Your Wrongful Death Claim?
  6. Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Build Cases Seeking Financial Compensation
  7. Discuss Your Loved One’s Passing With Our Wrongful Death Team for Free

A wrongful death occurs when one party’s “wrongful act, neglect, or default” causes the death of another. Under state law, the family of a victim can recover damages and hold the at-fault party responsible. This applies regardless of whether there is a criminal case pending against the liable party. 

At Herschensohn Law, our wrongful death lawyers represent victims’ families. We are here if your loved one passed away because of someone else’s carelessness or recklessness. We provide free initial case consultations. Call (206) 588-4344 to learn more today. 

What Is Necessary to Win a Wrongful Death Case?

A wrongful death case is possible whether the at-fault party acted intentionally or negligently. However, they are still liable for the damages the deceased person’s family suffered under civil law. 

Many wrongful death cases arise from fatal car accidents. To recover compensation for a wrongful death, we need to show: 

  • The at-fault party had a legal obligation to act with others’ safety in mind. 
  • They failed to uphold this obligation through carelessness or recklessness. 
  • Your loved one suffered fatal injuries. 
  • You are a statutory beneficiary and have damages. 

What Types of Cases Support Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

Any incident that supports a personal injury case should support a wrongful death case if the victim dies from their injuries. These instances include a wide range of incidents and any type of fatal injury caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional act. Situations that can led to wrongful death include:  

If you are unsure about your case, our team provides free case assessments. You can speak to a team member about your legal options based on your loved one’s death. We have the experience to evaluate the strength of these cases and identify any potentially liable parties. 

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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and who can recover damages are not always the same. Washington State allows only one party to initiate legal action on behalf of the decedent’s family:  

The Deceased Person’s Estate Representative

Some states, including Washington, only allow certain parties to sue for wrongful death. Under RCW 4.20.010, the plaintiff in all wrongful death cases in the state is the executor of the will or administrator of the estate. This party is known as the “personal representative.”

Usually, this party is named in the decedent’s will or estate plan. If they passed away without a will, the court will need to name the personal representative before we can proceed with the case. 

When the personal representative sues for wrongful death, they seek compensation on behalf of the family. They may or may not be a recipient of the proceeds of the case themselves. In most cases, the immediate family will receive the payout. These individuals could include: 

  • A surviving spouse
  • A surviving spouse and minor children
  • Minor and/or adult children
  • Parents of the decedent, if no spouse or children

Sometimes, the money could go to other relatives or the estate, if there are no close relatives or someone else paid for the decedent’s financial losses.  

What Damages Are Available in a Washington Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death case aims to do two things: hold the at-fault party accountable and recover compensation. Financial recovery encapsulates the hardships the decedent suffered prior to their passing, along with what their family experienced. 

Kinds of damages in a Washington wrongful death case include: 

  • Loss of the deceased person’s future income 
  • Loss of services the victim previously performed
  • Medical expenses and related costs 
  • Funeral expenses and burial costs 
  • Pre-death pain and suffering endured by the victim
  • Punitive damages (awarded at a judge’s discretion) 
  • Loss of companionship/loss of consortium 
  • Emotional distress 

Not all cases will have all of these damages available. For example, someone who passed away instantly or who never regained consciousness did not experience pre-death pain and suffering. Therefore, their family cannot recover the decedent’s pain and suffering in that instance. 

What Considerations Could Bolster Your Wrongful Death Claim?

In the aftermath of losing a loved one, you may feel at a loss about your next steps. Yet, there are some considerations that could streamline the claims process. These measures include: 

  • Refusing to give the liable insurance company a recorded statement 
  • Refraining from posting about your case’s details online 
  • Referring all settlement offers to your personal injury lawyer 
  • Keeping all information related to your loved one’s passing, such as their medical records 

Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Build Cases Seeking Financial Compensation

When someone acts negligently and causes the death of another, our attorneys can negotiate a fair settlement or sue the at-fault party. We know how to build a compelling case to show what happened, who caused it, and how much the case might be worth. 

RCW 4.16.080 generally gives families up to three years to sue. However, other factors affect the timeline in these cases. We encourage you to contact our team about your loved one’s death as early as possible to ensure we meet all applicable deadlines. 

Discuss Your Loved One’s Passing With Our Wrongful Death Team for Free

Herschensohn Law provides free consultations for families whose loved ones passed away because of someone else’s actions. As you can see from our case results, our team has the experience, knowledge, and resources to represent clients in wrongful death cases—and win. 

Our service areas include Kent, Auburn, Bellevue, Graham, Ellensburg, Puyallup, Covington, Seattle, and nearby regions. We are a contingency-fee firm, never asking clients to pay anything upfront. 

Call (206) 588-4344 to connect with our wrongful death attorneys. 

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