Wrongful Death Recoverable Damages in Washington State

If you lose a loved one in a preventable accident in Washington state, you may suffer with the burden of expensive bills, such as funeral costs and lost income, while also dealing with immense grief.

With help from an experienced Vancouver wrongful death attorney, a wrongful death claim could result in payment for certain losses. While no amount of money can make up for the death of a family member, fair compensation from the responsible party could make it easier for your family to move forward.

Economic vs. Noneconomic Damages

Two main categories of damages are available in a wrongful death claim in Washington: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages describe financial losses caused by the death of a loved one, while noneconomic damages are the intangible effects the loss has had on surviving family members. Washington state currently has no damage caps, or limits on the amount of compensation available, in a wrongful death claim.

Funeral and Burial Expenses

A reasonable amount can be awarded to pay for the funeral, burial or cremation of the deceased individual. This type of economic damage is meant to help a family arrange for the memorialization of the decedent without suffering economic losses. It can include funeral home service fees, cemetery plot or cremation fees, an urn or casket, transportation costs, and memorialization expenses, such as a headstone or plaque.

Medical Bills

If the decedent underwent any medical treatments, procedures or surgeries connected to the final injury or illness prior to the time of death, the family could be reimbursed for these expenses. This can include ambulance fees, hospitalization, diagnostic testing, emergency services, and medication or medical equipment costs.

Lost Financial Support and Services

When a family member passes away, survivors can suffer the loss of that person’s financial support, income, inheritance, future wages, employment benefits, insurance coverage, retirement benefits and household services. In Washington, it is possible for a family to obtain economic damages for the loss of financial support as well as household services and childcare that the decedent would have provided had he or she survived the accident.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium is a type of noneconomic damage that makes up for the loss of the decedent’s companionship, love, affection, intimacy, support and guidance to those left behind. This type of compensation is typically available when a surviving close family member, such as the decedent’s spouse or child, suffers a significant personal impact due to the loss.

Special Damages in a Case Involving a Deceased Child

When a child or stepchild passes away due to the wrongful or negligent act of another person, the parents, stepparents or legal guardians may be eligible for special damages under Wash. Rev. Code § 4.24.010. This can include the child’s medical expenses, loss of the child’s services, loss of the child’s love and companionship, and destruction of the parent-child relationship.

Survival Actions in Washington State

In addition to a wrongful death claim, surviving family members may also be able to bring a survival action under Wash. Rev. Code § 4.20.046. This type of claim attempts to compensate family members for noneconomic losses suffered by the decedent prior to his or her death, such as pain, suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, anxiety and humiliation. As with a wrongful death claim, these damages may be available to all eligible beneficiaries.

For more information about the damages that may be available in your wrongful death claim in Washington State, contact NW Injury Law Center for a free consultation.

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