Wrongful Death FAQs
Wrongful Death Claims In Washington – FAQ
When clients come to us about making a wrongful death claim they are often distraught over the loss of a loved one. They know they need help but feel vulnerable because they have never been in a situation like this before.
At the Law Offices of Joseph Rome, we want our clients to be as comfortable as possible going through the process of a wrongful death claim. We take the time to get to know our clients, address their concerns, and make sure they understand what to expect after we file their claim.
Following are answers to many of the questions people often have about making a claim for wrongful death.
It is considered a wrongful death in Washington when a person dies due to the ‘wrongful act, neglect or default of another person’. When a wrongful death occurs, Washington law gives certain surviving members of the decedent’s family the right to be compensated for the loss of their loved one.
The compensation awarded in a wrongful death case is for the benefit of the surviving spouse or domestic partner of the decedent and any children or step-children. Only if there is no partner or child do more distant relations – parents or siblings – receive compensation.
Maybe, but not for wrongful death. If the decedent was alive for a period of time before death, it gives rise to a claim for personal injury that survives death. The personal representative of the decedent may bring the personal injury claim to benefit a surviving spouse or domestic partner and any children of the decedent.
In most cases when the decedent is an adult, the right to bring a claim for wrongful death is given to their personal representative. A personal representative can be appointed in a will or by court order.
When the decedent is a minor child, the right to bring a claim for wrongful death is given to the parent or legal guardian who regularly contributes to the support of the child.
If the decedent is an adult child whose parents have significant involvement in the child’s life (because of disability for instance), then the parents have the right to make a wrongful death claim.
Beneficiaries of a wrongful death lawsuit can recover economic damages such as the medical and burial expenses of the decedent as well as the lost income and cost of services that would have been contributed. Beneficiaries are also allowed to recover non-economic damages for the anguish caused by the loss of their loved one and having to live without that person in their lives.
A wrongful death action in Washington must be filed within 3 years of the date of death.
No. Pain and suffering are damages experienced by the person injured. A wrongful death claim is brought for the benefit of the decedent’s survivors, not the decedent. However, the survivors are allowed to collect other non-economic damages for how they have suffered because of the decedent’s death.
No. A wrongful death claim is a civil proceeding and the only penalties that can be imposed are financial. If criminal charges are made against the person responsible for wrongful death those proceedings are separate and have different penalties.
It really depends on the credibility of the evidence and how persuasive your attorney is when presenting your claim. The standard of proof is lower for civil actions than for criminal actions. But you still must be able to establish that the party responsible for the decedent’s death had an obligation to be more careful than they were and that lack of care caused the untimely death.
In Washington, having some fault for causing the circumstances that result in injury or death does not bar recovery from anyone else at fault. But the percentage of fault attributed to the party seeking compensation will proportionately reduce the amount that can be recovered. An experienced wrongful death attorney will do everything possible to minimize any potential liability on the part of the decedent and protect a client’s right to compensation.
It depends. Some wrongful death cases may be able to settle within a few months and others may go on for several years. The more issues that need to be agreed on and the more parties involved, the longer it can take to come to a resolution. Working with an attorney who is organized and thoroughly prepared for each step in the process will help your claim resolve as efficiently as possible.
Often yes. Although wrongful death can occur from either intentional or accidental conduct, most wrongful deaths are the result of accidents. Liability insurance policies are underwritten to cover people when they make mistakes that result in injury or damage to others. Drivers, business owners, and manufacturers are all required to carry liability insurance to compensate those who may be accidentally injured.
When a family loses a member to wrongful death it can turn their whole world upside down. There are difficult decisions that need to be made at a time when decision-making itself is difficult.
The Kirkland wrongful death lawyer at the Law Offices of Joseph Rome is committed to helping families who have lost loved ones to wrongful death. We treat each and every one of our clients with the compassion and respect they deserve while aggressively pursuing the maximum available compensation for their devastating losses.