Who is a beneficiary in a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death case is only allowed by statute and the terms or requirements set forth in the statute must be strictly met. A wrongful death case may only be pursued if there are certain beneficiaries (or survivors) designated in the statute. In Washington the wrongful death case can only proceed if there is a surviving spouse or surviving children. If the deceased was not married and had no children, then a wrongful death case may be pursued by a surviving parent or sibling, but only if the parent or sibling was financially dependent on the deceased at the time of death. The Washington Supreme Court has determined that the financial dependence must be "substantial." However, in the case of a wrongful death of a minor child (under age 18), a surviving parent may bring a wrongful death case without showing financial dependence.