Parents Can Sue For Wrongful Death Of An Adult Child In Washington
It’s almost hard to believe but until very recently, the parents of a child aged 18 or older had no recourse against the person who wrongfully caused the death of their child even though the child may have lived in their home and had no partner or children of his or her own.
An old provision in Washington law dating back to 1909 required the parents of an adult child to both live in the US and be financially dependent on the child in order to make a claim for wrongful death. The old law left many grieving parents angry, frustrated, and without recourse for the loss of their child.
In 2019, Governor Inslee signed into law provisions that allow the parents or legal guardians of adult children to be compensated for the loss of those children when they are unmarried and without children.
At the Law Offices of Joseph Rome, we sympathize with the plight of parents who have lost children and believe this change in the law was a long time coming. Our Kirkland wrongful death attorney helps parents seek justice for a deceased child and compensation for their heart-breaking loss.
Prior Washington Wrongful Death Law Challenged as ‘Discriminatory’
The old law gained a lot of public attention in 2015 after a female student from South Korea was killed in a traffic accident on Highway 99 while on a Seattle duck boat tour. The girl’s parents, who lived in South Korea, were denied the ability to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on her behalf because of the then law’s requirement that a child’s parents be US residents at the time of her death.
The law was challenged as being discriminatory and an outdated throwback to a time during the early 20th century when there was a strong anti-Asian bias in Washington. Unfortunately, the court had no choice but to apply the antiquated law as written and deny any recovery to the young girl’s parents. It was left to the Washington legislature to change the law.
New Law Removes US Residency and Financial Dependency Requirements
The new law took effect in 2019 and allows parents or legal guardians of adult children who have no spouse, domestic partner, or children to bring a wrongful death claim so long as the parents had significant involvement with the child at or near the time of death.
Establishing ‘significant involvement’ means showing demonstrated support from parent to child or child to parent that is of the following nature:
Opponents of the change were mainly those who stood to have greater legal exposure by expanding the law. But the law does not create any new liability. It only allows for recovery where recovery had been unfairly denied before.
An Advocate You Can Trust With Your Claim for Wrongful Death of a Child
Losing a child is a horror no parent should ever have to face. Nothing can replace what has been lost. But the law gives you the right to hold the responsible party accountable and make them pay (financially) for the tragedy they have caused.
The Kirkland wrongful death lawyer at the Law Offices of Joseph Rome understands that losing a family member is a very sad and confusing time. We are available to counsel and support our clients through the difficulty while at the same time aggressively pursuing their rights to the fullest extent possible.