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Is the Government Liable for a Wrongful Death?

Updated on: 11/7/2019

Washington state law permits injured victims to pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party responsible for causing the victim's injuries. In the event of a death due to negligence, these same laws permit surviving loved ones to pursue a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party for the damages they have suffered due to the wrongful death of that person. 

Typically, wrongful death cases involve a singular defendant who is held legally responsible - such as a driver, in the event that the death resulted from a car accident. But in other situations, a wrongful death case may come as a result of a more complex incident that involves a government entity, such as the Department of Corrections or Department of Social & Health Services. 

The short answer to "can a Washington state government agency be held liable for wrongful death?" is, "Yes." But in a legal sense, there is much more to this issue than that. 

In cases where you are suing the government, you need extreme evidence and a lot of details to support your claim because these cases can be expensive and difficult to pursue. Attorney Chris Davis has handled many cases against the government, including one in which he is representing a cyclist who was injured on a Seattle bike trial. The lawsuit was filed against the City of Seattle.

Many people are very intimidated by a lawsuit, especially one that involves the government. This is probably for the better, in reality, because the level of complexity that comes with proving a government entity is liable for wrongful death is extremely high and requires an expert level of legal knowledge. For these reasons, surviving loved ones facing a possible government negligence claim may be best served consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Example Of Wrongful Death Due To Government Negligence 

An 82-year-old man was heading south on a highway, attempting to make a left hand turn, when the man’s car was severely hit by a marked police unit, in his fight to catch a fugitive.

The impact of the police vehicle was so severe, the elderly man was paralyzed. As a result of his injuries, he died just two months later. The wrongful death lawsuit states that the police officer was at fault since he was traveling at such high speeds without a siren or flashing lights. It is reported that the officer was traveling 75 to 92 mph at the time of the collision.

While some may dismiss this as an accident, it really is more than that. First, it is illegal for a police officer to be chasing another driver without his lights on and/or a siren. Secondly, the man had 13 crashes in his 20 years of service. Instead of the police force putting him on probation or investigating his many collisions, they did nothing.

The lawyer for the officer said that it is not against the law for a cop to go over the speed limit without lights or sirens on. However, the law says otherwise. The plaintiff’s attorney also argues that the victim did not yield to the oncoming police officer who was in pursuit of a criminal.

Contact Davis Law Group For Help

Thankfully, there are attorneys who are on your side, helping to recover justice on your behalf. If you believe that the government may be responsible for an accident you are involved in or an injury you may have sustained, contact experienced personal injury attorney Chris Davis at Davis Law Group. Mr. Davis has nearly 20 years of representing accident victims. Call Davis Law Group at (206) 727-4000 to schedule a free consultation today.

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