When a loved one dies, the world stops. The daily life you knew, the experiences you shared, and the stability that person brought to your life are all suddenly gone. Nothing can prevent the pain of losing someone close to you, but at least when the death is expected, you have time to prepare and begin the grieving process. Unexpected deaths, however, leave you no room to prepare.
The only thing that can make an unexpected death worse is finding out that it was someone else’s fault. In Washington state, such a death is known as a wrongful death. This legal term means that someone else’s negligence or willful act caused the death of someone close to you. It also means that you can sue to recover compensation for what happened.
To learn more about wrongful death lawsuits, see below and contact the experienced Silverdale wrongful death attorneys at Ryan, Montgomery & Armstrong, Inc., P.S.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Washington?
Although you may be upset and even feel that you have been wronged by the person whose negligence took your loved one’s life, you may not be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. That is because Washington state law dictates who can file such a claim, and it is highly specific.
The only person who can file a wrongful death claim in Washington for the death of an adult is the decedent’s personal representative. This person is often chosen in the deceased person’s will, but a court can select a representative when none has been chosen. Most often, the representative is the person’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent. Sometimes, it might be a sibling. This personal representative can sue the at-fault party for financial benefits on behalf of the deceased person’s beneficiaries.
But what if the person who was killed was a child? A separate law covers wrongful death claims involving children. In such a case, the parents of the child may file a wrongful death claim separately or jointly. This is regardless of marital status. Any parent who files a wrongful death claim on behalf of their child in Washington must have regularly contributed to the care and support of the child who passed away.
If you are unsure of who in your family can file a wrongful death claim for your loved one’s death, reach out to an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
Accidents That Cause Wrongful Deaths
As long as someone else’s negligence or willful conduct caused the fatal accident, almost any accident type can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit in Washington. With that said, however, there are some types of accidents that more commonly turn fatal than others:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- On-the-job accidents
- Premises liability accidents
No matter what kind of accident was involved in your loved one’s death, you will need to be able to demonstrate that it was someone else’s fault if you wish to recover compensation. A qualified attorney can help you gather evidence and build a strong case.
What Wrongful Death Benefits Are Available to Survivors?
If your wrongful death claim is successful, the compensation you win will be paid to the deceased person’s estate and paid out to beneficiaries thereafter. (Note that wrongful death lawsuits involving children typically compensate the parents directly.) But what kinds of damages can you recover compensation for in a Washington wrongful death lawsuit?
The following are some common compensatory benefits available to survivors in Washington wrongful death lawsuits:
- Burial and funeral costs
- Medical bills tied to the deceased person’s accident
- Lost income your loved one would likely have earned if they had not died
- Any property that was damaged in the accident
- Pain and suffering your loved one experienced
- Your loss or companionship and care from the death of your loved one
Why Work with a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Even when you believe the case is as clear as it can be, you should expect the at-fault party to try to dodge the blame for what happened. They will do this to try to avoid being forced to compensate your family for your loss.
How can you fight back when you are already grieving and the person who owes your family compensation is refusing to give it to you? You can fight back with the help of a trusted Silverdale wrongful death lawyer. Your attorney can gather evidence and build a case that leaves no doubt about what happened, who is at fault, and how much compensation your family deserves.
If you plan to pursue compensation, it is important to act fast. You only have three years from the date of the death to file your claim. To schedule a free consultation with the team at Ryan, Montgomery & Armstrong, Inc., P.S., give us a call at 360-307-8860 or reach out online.