According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injury deaths are tragically the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, claiming 173,040 lives in 2019.
If you recently lost a loved one under tragic circumstances, NW Injury Law Center can provide tailored legal services to seek justice, accountability and the compensation that your family deserves. We are compassionate wrongful death lawyers in Vancouver who will be there for you and your family during this difficult time. Contact us today to start your case with a free consultation.
Clients Trust Us When Results Matter Most
Clients in Vancouver and throughout Washington trust our attorneys with their wrongful death claims because we put them first. Your lawyer will provide one-on-one care and individualized attention throughout your case. We will listen to your story and immediately let you know how we can help, then go to work on the fight for justice for your deceased loved one.
As your Vancouver injury lawyers, we will investigate the fatal accident, gather signs of negligence or fault, aggressively go up against one or multiple defendants, negotiate with insurance companies, and take other legal actions on your behalf so that you can concentrate on healing. Our highly experienced and dedicated wrongful death attorneys will treat your case with the utmost care and attention to detail.
What Is Washington’s Definition of Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a cause of action or civil lawsuit that can be brought by certain parties when a victim dies from an injury or illness caused by someone else. According to Washington State Legislature Section 4.20.010, a plaintiff may bring an action against a person who caused the death of an individual through:
- A wrongful act. A wrongful act refers to recklessness, maliciousness or the intent to harm someone else.
- Neglect. Neglect is the failure to use an appropriate level of care for a situation.
- Default. A default, or omission, is the failure to do something that a reasonable or prudent person would have done in the same circumstances.
In general, if the injury or illness would have given the victim the ability to file a personal injury claim had he or she survived, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. Most wrongful death cases are based on the theory of negligence, or a breach of the defendant’s duty of care. If you’re unsure whether you have grounds for a wrongful death claim in Vancouver, our attorneys can let you know during a free evaluation.
Wrongful Death vs. Homicide
If an unlawful act causes the death of an individual in Vancouver, the perpetrator could face both civil and criminal penalties. A wrongful death claim is a civil case – a lawsuit that seeks to make a plaintiff whole again through financial compensation. A homicide case is meant to punish a defendant for committing a crime.
The burden of proof in a civil case is less than in a criminal case, meaning the same defendant could be found liable for wrongful death but not guilty of homicide. The burden of proof in a civil case is a preponderance of the evidence, or enough evidence to prove that the defendant is more likely than not at fault. The burden in a criminal case is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims
Many different types of preventable accidents and incidents can lead to wrongful death lawsuits in Vancouver. At NW Injury Law Center, our attorneys have the skills and experience to handle any type of fatal accident case. We have a proven track record that spans more than 35 years and includes hundreds of favorable results for clients. Our lawyers can handle wrongful death cases involving many common types of fatal accidents, including:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Boating accidents
- Construction accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Being struck by an object
- Medical negligence
- Faulty products
If your loved one passed away in any of these accidents – or under any circumstances that seem unusual – consult with an attorney about a potential wrongful death claim. You may be eligible for financial compensation from one or more defendants, such as a driver, employer, product manufacturer or property owner. We will help you hold someone accountable for the loss of your loved one’s life.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Vancouver, WA?
Unlike most states, Washington state law dictates two tiers of beneficiaries in wrongful death claims. The first includes a spouse, domestic partner, children, or stepchildren of the deceased and the second includes parents and siblings. The second tier may only recover if there are both no members of the first tier and if they were dependent on the deceased for support. If the deceased created a will before their death, the court will usually appoint an executor or representative to handle the estate.
Damages in wrongful death cases are “pecuniary” (monetary) and are awarded for medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of support, and loss of inheritance. This number is calculated by taking into consideration the deceased’s age, earning capacity, condition, health, and the circumstances of their beneficiaries. Although no judge or lawyer can bring back someone you love, our civil justice system can provide the remaining family members with monetary compensation.
What Are Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?
Damages in a wrongful death suit are determined by the actual loss suffered by the survivors, or interested parties. Monetary damages are intended to be restorative and compensate the victims for real, financial losses incurred through the wrongdoer’s conduct. In a wrongful death action these damages can include:
- Hospital bills and medical expenses
- Funeral costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of benefits, including Social Security
What is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Vancouver?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in Washington is three years, meaning that beneficiaries have exactly three years from the date of the accident or fatal injury to file a suit. There can be exceptions in limited cases, but your case will almost certainly be dismissed by missing the deadline. Therefore, it’s important to take action right away. If a loved one has been killed due to the negligence of another, there are options to ensure that you get fair compensation.
Vancouver WA Wrongful Death Attorneys
At the NW Injury Law Center in Vancouver, we have been serving the Pacific Northwest for over 35 years and will fight for your rights. Our law group is also recognized as one of the best law firms in Vancouver, WA. Call us today at (360) 695-1624 or fill out our contact form to set up a free consultation with one of our WA wrongful death lawyers.