How To Make A Claim For Wrongful Death
No one really knows what is going to happen during the course of any day. Sometimes circumstances occur that are beyond our control and cause outcomes that no one could have predicted.
Accidents are a fact of life. And when accidents occur because someone fails to act with an appropriate amount of care and their actions cause the death of another, those who survive the decedent have a claim for wrongful death.
The Kirkland wrongful death attorney at Law Offices of Joseph Rome understands the deep sense of loss our clients experience when they lose a family member to wrongful death. We support our clients through a very difficult time and help them prepare for the future without their loved one.
When Does Wrongful Death Occur?
The term ‘wrongful death’ refers to a civil action that is brought by the family members of someone who dies as a result of another person’s actions. The family of the decedent is seeking financial compensation for the loss of their family member.
In Washington, if a person’s death is ’caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default’ of someone else a wrongful death has occurred.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a separate legal proceeding and not associated with any criminal charges that the wrongdoer may also be facing.
Who Can Make a Claim for Wrongful Death?
When the person deceased was an adult that had a spouse, domestic partner or child, the decedent’s personal representative has the authority to bring an action for wrongful death. If there is no spouse, domestic partner or children, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by the decedent’s parents or siblings.
When the person deceased was a minor child, the minor’s parents or legal guardians may bring a wrongful death claim if they regularly contributed to the support of the child.
The parents or legal guardians of an adult child for whom they provided emotional, psychological or financial support at or near the time of death may file a wrongful death lawsuit if the child had no spouse, domestic partner or children.
Who Gets Compensation for Wrongful Death?
The people primarily entitled to be compensated for the loss of a family member are the:
- spouse or domestic partner
- children (including stepchildren)
Only when there is no spouse, domestic partner or children does the law allow parents, legal guardians or siblings to be compensated.
What Happens When a Person Doesn’t Die Immediately?
In Washington, when a person is injured by someone else and must endure the injury for a period of time before death, a personal injury claim may arise and that claim survives and can be brought in addition to the claim for wrongful death.
The same rules that govern who can bring or benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit apply to a personal injury survival action.
What Compensation is Available for Wrongful Death?
Persons entitled to compensation for wrongful death may recover expenses incurred by the decedent as well as for the lost contributions the decedent would have made to their lives. Typical damages that are compensated include:
- the decedent’s medical expenses
- the decedent’s funeral and burial expenses
- lost income and benefits the decedent would have contributed
- lost household services by the decedent
- lost support, affection, guidance and companionship by the decedent
The compensation that can be collected in a personal injury survival action is similar in that the beneficiaries can collect both economic and non-economic damages. But the non-economic damages are for the decedent’s pain & suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, or humiliation.
How We Can Help?
The unexpected loss of a family member is shocking and devastating for the survivors. Lives are forever changed and that can leave many families struggling with what to do next.
At Law Offices of Joseph Rome, we work with families that have survived the loss of a loved one. We empathize with how painful this experience is for our clients. Our Kirkland wrongful death lawyer helps clients pick up and move on with their lives. We advocate aggressively for the compensation our clients are entitled to so they can begin to build a future.