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 130,557 lives in 2013.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Unlike most states, Washington state law dictates two tiers of beneficiaries in wrongful death claims. The first includes a spouse, domestic partner, children, or step children 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 with monetary compensation.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Boating accidents
- Construction accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Being struck by and object
- Medical negligence
- Faulty products
What are damages?
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
Statute of Limitations
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.
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. Call us today at (360) 695-1624 or fill out our contact form to set up a free consultation.