Losing a loved one due to a wrongful death incident is a life-altering experience. When a family member’s life is suddenly cut short as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another, the grief and feelings of loss are overwhelming. No one is ever prepared for such a tragic event.
In the midst of a tragic loss, it can be difficult to make decisions about the future. Insurance companies are typically eager to settle wrongful death claims as quickly as possible. It is vital for victims' families to understand their legal rights before accepting settlement of any kind. In many cases, surviving family members may benefit from the assistance of an experienced attoney.
Dedicated to Serving Families Devastated by Wrongful Death
Recovering compensation and damages for a wrongful death that was caused by the negligence of another is a complex and challenging legal process. It is important to have a very experienced wrongful death attorney on your side.
Attorney Chris Davis and the legal team at Davis Law Group are dedicated to serving families that have been devastated by the wrongful death of a loved one. Call 206-727-4000 for a free consultation.
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Legal Rights of Family Members After Wrongful Death
Many people are surprised to learn that Washington state law only allows certain family members to recover for a wrongful death of a loved one. In most fatal accident cases, recovery is limited to the surviving spouse and children. In some death cases the decedent’s surviving siblings and parents may also have separate claims if they are financially dependent on the decedent at the time of death.
These cases almost always involve complex legal issues or questions where the outcomes are heavily, if not completely, influenced by the individual facts of the case. In most cases, a wrongful death action requires urgent investigation and preparation to increase the chances of a favorable outcome. Furthermore, pursuing a wrongful death claim often requires significant financial resources and can take years to be resolved.
In most wrongful death cases, the estate and certain surviving family members will have a claim for damages. The estate is typically allowed to claim damages for the decedent’s lost earnings, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and conscious “pain and suffering” experienced by the decedent before death. Certain surviving family members may also have individual claims for damages as a result of the decedent’s death, including loss of consortium (i.e., destruction of the relationship) and emotional distress.
Wrongful Death Statistics
According to the CDC, there are approximately 121,000 deaths each year that are the result of unintentional fatal accident. Statistics indicate that more than 26,000 deaths occur due to falls, while nearly 33,700 deaths occur in motor vehicle collisions, and poisoning causes the deaths of more than 33,040 individuals.
According to statistics from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) there are more than 37,000 fatal motor vehicle collisions each year in the United States. The sudden loss of a loved one due to an automobile accident caused by a negligent driver is devastating. When a family member’s life is suddenly cut short the grief and feelings of loss can be overwhelming.
Justice for Families of Fatal Accident Victims
When the spouse, parent, sibling or other relative of a fatal accident victim contacts our office they often have questions about why the accident happened and are worried about how they will pay bills and expenses.
- Why wasn’t something done to prevent our loved one’s death?
- How can we survive emotionally and financially after this tragedy?
- How will we pay the medical bills and funeral costs?
- How will our family manage daily living expenses now that we have lost income that had been provided by deceased family member?
- Is there anything we can do to protect the reputation of our departed loved one?
- How can we make sure that this kind of accident never happens again?
If you're visiting our website because you have lost a family member in a tragic accident, we hope this information begins to answer your some of your questions as you research your legal options and begin your journey to recovery.
Common Causes of Fatal Accidents
Compensation for Surviving Family Members
The surviving family members of a person that died in an accident that was caused by the negligence of another does have legal rights. Survivors can generally make a claim for damages against a negligent person or company to recover financial compensation for medical treatment, medical bills, lost wages, other economic damages and non-economic damages.
In many cases, litigation may be necessary and victims may be forced to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties. Based upon the cause of the fatal accident and the specific circumstances of death of the deceased, the settlements and jury verdicts in these types of cases are often significant.
Washington State Wrongful Death Laws, Codes, Rules & Regulations
Davis Law Group founder Chris Davis is the author of The Essential Guide To Wrongful Death Law in Washington State, a legal guide which helps family members to understand their legal rights and options after the tragic loss of a loved one. This comprehensive book sensitively addresses common issues and questions that may arise, such as: an overview of the wrongful death laws and litigation process, the need to start a probate action, dealing with medical and funeral bills, finding the right attorney, making sure that the surviving children and family members are fairly compensated, and the necessary legal steps involved in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The book is available for FREE as a public service to the citizens of Washington State. You can order a copy by visiting the Washington Accident Books & Reports website.
- "Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. US Department of Transportation.
- "The Autopsy , Medicine, and Mortality Statistics." Centers for Disease Control. Department of Health & Human Resources, 1 Mar. 2011. Web.
- "Fatal Injury Reports, National and Regional, 1999 - 2013." WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web.
- Davis, Christopher M. The Essential Guide To Wrongful Death Law in Washington State. First ed. Seattle: Word Association, 2010. Print.
- "Washington State Washington State: County-by-county Comparision of Factors Involved in Traffic Fatalities." Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Traffic Research and Data Center. Washington State Department of Transportation. Web. .
- "Traffic Safety Facts, Washington State, 2009-2013." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. US Department of Transportation. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.
- "Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)." IIHS-HLDI: Crash Testing & Highway Safety. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Web. .
- "National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Vehicle Safety Research." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. US Department of Transportation. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.