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Washington State Prepared to Change Wrongful Death Law

Updated on: 11/25/2019

court gavelWashington state is on the cusp of changing its century-old wrongful death law, allowing parents of adult children to file a wrongful death claim after an accidental death.

The new law will remove requirements that family members must be economically dependent on the victim to be able file a wrongful death claim. Parents will only need to prove "emotional (or) psychological support" from their adult child to be eligible to file wrongful death claims.

Additionally, the new law will remove requirements that family members must live in the United States.

The Washington State House of Representatives passed the bill, and having previously passed the Senate, it now goes to the governor for his signature. The previous version of the law dates back to 1909 and was intended to protect American businesses from claims by the families of migrant workers.

Wrongful Death of an Adult Child in Washington State

Legal guardians are authorized to bring an action for wrongful death of a child. Standards for when a parent may bring an action for the death of a child have been revised to remove the requirement that a parent must have regularly contributed to the support of a minor child or been dependent for support on an adult child.

Instead, a parent or legal guardian may bring an action if the parent or legal guardian has had significant involvement in the child's life, including either giving or receiving emotional, psychological, or financial support to or from the child. Significant involvement means demonstrated support of an emotional, psychological, or financial nature within the parent-child relationship at or reasonably near the time of death, or at or reasonably near the time of the incident causing the death.

An action may be maintained by a parent or legal guardian regardless of whether or not the child has attained the age of majority, only if the child has no spouse, state registered domestic partner, or children. Each parent is entitled to recover for their own loss separately from the other parent regardless of marital status.

In addition to recovering damages for the child's health care expenses, loss of the child's services, loss of the child's financial support, and other economic losses, damages may be also recovered for the following:

  • Loss of love and companionship of the child
  • Loss of the child's emotional support
  • Injury to or destruction of the parent-child relationship

Washington State Wrongful Death Attorneys

Wrongful death claims can be brought in a variety of circumstances when a person is killed due to the negligence of another person or party. The losses are real, and no family should have to suffer the harm caused by the accidental death of a loved one. 

The experienced wrongful death attorneys at Seattle-based Davis Law Group can help your family recover financially for the loss of a loved one. No settlement or jury verdict can replace your family member, but holding the at fault person or party responsible is important. Davis Law Group lawyers help bereaved Washington state families seek the justice, emotional closure, and financial compensation that a wrongful death claim provides.

For a free case evaluation, contact us today. Call (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the form on this page to get started.

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Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.
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