Losing a loved one due to a wrongful death incident is a life-altering experience, and one of the most difficult things a person can 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, especially when it results from someone else's negligence.
Washington state law dictates that surviving loved ones can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in the event that a death is caused by negligence or misconduct of another person or entity. 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 wrongful death attorney.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits In Washington State
What Is A Wrongful Death?
The Revised Code Of Washington (RCW 4.20.010) states, "When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another, his personal representative may maintain an action for damages against the person causing the death."
Who May Pursue A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
According to RCW 4.20.020, "Every such action shall be for the benefit of the wife, husband, state registered domestic partner, child or children, including stepchildren, of the person whose death shall have been so caused. If there is no wife, husband, state registered domestic partner, or such child or children, such action may be maintained for the benefit of the parents, sisters, or brothers, who may be dependent upon the deceased person for support, and who reside within the United States at the time of his death. In every such action, the jury may give damages as, under all circumstances of the case, may to them seem just."
How Long Do I Have To Pursue A Wrongful Death Case?
The Statute of Limitations (SOL) for a wrongful death case is typically three years from the date of the incident, but that can depend upon a number of factors. The bottom line is that surviving family members have a limited amount of time before the case is barred forever, so it's best to contact an attorney immediately to ensure the case is not jeopardized.
Hiring The Right Wrongful Death Attorney
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 lawyer on your side.
For nearly 25 years, Davis Law Group has represented families touched by the wrongful death of a loved one. Attorney Chris Davis is one of the most respected and recognized wrongful death lawyers practicing in Washington State. Davis Law Group has been named Best Injury Law Firm in Washington State by AI Dispute Resolution Awards.
If you have lost a loved on due to a wrongful death accident in Washington State contact attorney Chris Davis and the team at Davis Law Group at 206-727-4000 to schedule a free legal consultation.
Fatal Accident Settlements
Below are of the many wrongful death cases that have been resolved by Davis Law Group.
- $4 Million for Family of Woman Killed in Drowsy Driver Crash
- $3.25 Million Settlement For Family Of Boy Killed By Inmate Released Early
- $3 Million Settlement for Deadly Commercial Vehicle Crash
- $1.35 Million For Family in Vehicle-Into-Building Crash
- $585,000 Settlement for death of 72-year-old car accident passenger
Wrongful Death Lawyers In The News
As a prominent fatal accident injury lawyer with experience in handling serious motor vehicle collision claims, attorney Chris Davis is often featured by local or national new media covering accident-related issues and/or some of his cases. You may have him on local stations such as KING5, KOMO4, KIRO7 and Q13Fox.
Legal Questions About Wrongful Death
When a spouse, parent, sibling or other loving relative of a wrongful death victim first contacts our office, they often have questions about who is responsible for the accident happened and are worried about how they will pay bills and expenses. Some other common questions include:
- How much is a wrongful death claim worth?
- Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
- Why file a wrongful death claim?
- 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 we manage living expenses without our loved one's financial support?
- 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?
Featured Wrongful Death Settlements
A local contracting company employee fell asleep behind the wheel, crashing into a mother of four. We negotiated a $4 million dollar settlement providing her children the assistance they require for the rest of their lives.
Many of the surviving family members we speak with are confused about who is legally allowed to pursue a wrongful death case. In Washington state, the law allows certain family members to recover for a wrongful death of a loved one.
- The personal representative of the victim's estate (sometimes referred to as the executor)
- The spouse or domestic partner of the victim
- The children of the victim (including step-children)
- Or, if there is no spouse or children, the victim's parents or siblings.
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.
Wrongful death accidents occur in a number of ways. Some of the types of cases our attorneys have handled involving the wrongful death of a person include, but are not limited to motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, poisoning, being struck by an object, medical malpractice, on-the-job accidents, dog bites & animal attacks, drowning incidents, falls, and fires.
According to the CDC, there are approximately 121,000 deaths each year that are the result of unintentional fatal accident. The term “accident” in this sense is a bit of a misnomer, as many times a fatal accident may be attributed to negligence on behalf of a person, business, or government entity. When a wrongful death is caused by negligence, the victim’s surviving loved ones may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Motor vehicle accidents are perhaps the most common causation in wrongful death cases. The sudden loss of a loved one in an automobile accident caused by a negligent driver can be devastating. When a family member’s life is suddenly cut short the grief and feelings of loss can be overwhelming.
What Damages Are Recoverable In A Wrongful Death Case?
When a person is killed as a result of negligent behavior, the victim’s surviving family members have a legal right to recover the damages they have directly suffered. Survivors can make a claim for damages against the negligent person, company, or other entity that caused their loved one’s death. Real-life examples of the damages that might be included in a wrongful death lawsuit may include:
- Medical bills and expenses. In many wrongful death cases, hospitals will expect their bills to be paid even if the patient dies. Grieving families are often left with costly bills for medical treatment and other expenses. An experienced wrongful death lawyer may even be able to negotiate with medical providers and reduce these costs.
- Lost wages and loss of future earnings. If the surviving loved ones were financially dependent on the deceased victim, the claimants may be able to recover damages for the financial support that they have lost. The amount of damages are usually based on the victim’s current, past, and future earnings, as well as education and future job prospects.
- Pain and suffering. Not all accident victims pass away immediately. If a victim experienced significant pain and suffering before their death, a qualified wrongful death lawyer may factor the victim’s pain and suffering into the claim for damages.
- Loss of consortium. Not all damages in a wrongful death case are economic. Family members grieving the untimely death of a loved one can also request compensation for their own suffering, including the loss of their loved one’s companionship.
- Funeral expenses. Even a simple burial can cost family members tens of thousands of dollars. These damages can also be recovered in many wrongful death cases.
Every single wrongful death case is unique; it’s not possible at the start of a case to predict with complete accuracy what the final settlement or verdict will be. Some of the factors that affect the overall value of a wrongful death case include:
- The negligent party’s insurance policy. In cases where a fatal accident was caused by a private individual with a car insurance policy or homeowner’s policy, it is highly unlikely that even the best lawyer will be able to recover more than the available policy limits. However, cases involving a negligent company or department of the government may have much higher limits, or no limits at all, on what may be claimed.
- The identity of the person who died. As crass as it may sound, insurance companies try to calculates the monetary value of a person’s life. This is often based on the income they earned or would have earned. In cases that go to trial, the jury’s own perception of the victim may also affect how much money they award.
- The identity of the claimant. In Washington state, only certain family members are allowed to file a claim for compensation after a wrongful death. State law also places restrictions on when people who are not citizens of the United States are allowed to file a claim in wrongful death cases. For example, a boyfriend or girlfriend of a victim is usually not allowed to file a wrongful death claim.
- The circumstances of the death. If the victim experienced a great deal of pain and suffering before their passing, their family may have an additional claim for damages.
- Willingness to go to trial. Many grieving families would prefer not to add the additional stress of preparing for trial to their lives. However, attorneys who are at least willing to take a case to trial typically receive higher damages and insurance companies will often offer a more generous settlement to avoid a costly trial.
- The quality of the law firm you choose. While all lawyers who have passed the bar may technically be allowed to handle a wrongful death case, very few will have the necessary experience to get the best possible results for their clients. Many firms that take wrongful death cases practice many different areas of law, or they take on a high volume of cases and try to close them as quickly as possible. More modest firms that only take personal injury and wrongful death cases tend to devote more time to each case they take.
Free Wrongful Death Case Review
The wrongful death lawyers at Davis Law Group are standing by to review your wrongful death case free of charge. If we believe we can help improve the chances of a successful outcome for your case, we will meet with you for a free legal consultation to discuss your case in more detail and explain why hiring an attorney is in your best interests.
Call our office in Seattle at (206) 727-4000 or use the confidential contact form on this page to get started. Someone from our office will contact you to gather important information about your case and help you better understand your legal rights.
Wrongful Death Settlements
Below are just a few of the many wrongful death cases that have been resolved by Davis Law Group.
- $4,200,000 Wrongful Death Due To Automobile Accident (Case No. 200134)
- $4 Million Settlement For Family Of Woman Killed By Sleeping Driver Read The Client Story
- $3,400,000 Paid By DOC for Brain Injury and Wrongful Death Read The Client Story
- $3,000,000 Wrongful Death of Bicyclist Hit By A Box Truck (Case No. 201018, Travelers)
- $3,000,000 Settlement for Victims of Double Fatality Crash Read The Client Story
- $2,936,821 Wrongful Death Car Accident Involving A Bus (Case No. 200672, Gallagher Bassett)
- $2,760,000 Wrongful Death From Motor Vehicle Accident (Case No. 200551, Farmers)
- $1,550,000 Rear-End Accident Caused By Delivery Truck (Case No. 200696, Liberty Mutual)
- $1,000,000 Wrongful Death Due To Fall (Case No. 200939, Philadelphia Indemnity)
- $1,000,000 Motorcycle Hit Head-On By Car Making Illegal U-Turn (Case No. 200566, Allstate)
- $975,000 Settlement for Man Who Died from Dog Bite Read The Client Story
- $800,000 Pedestrian Hit By Car In Crosswalk (Case No. 200515, QBE Regional Insurance)
- $570,000 Struck By Speeding Car That Ran Stop Light (Case No. 201037, Farmers)
- $200,000 Pedestrians Struck By Speeding Vehicle (Case No. 201047, Allstate)
- $127,000 Wrongful Death Car Accident (Case No. 201238, Allstate)