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:
- 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?
If you are 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. If you haven’t already, you may also consider ordering a copy of our free legal guide about wrongful death law in Washington.
Featured Wrongful Death Case Results
|$4 Million for the surviving children of a woman tragically killed in a car crash. Read More||$3.4 Million for the Estate of a man killed in a crash caused by an unsupervised felon. Read More||$975,000 for the Estate of a man who died from an infection after a dog bite. Read More|
Named 'Best' Wrongful Death Attorneys in Seattle
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. Wrongful death attorney Chris Davis and the 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.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
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.
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.
Why File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
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.
Damages 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.
How Much is a Wrongful Death Case Worth?
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.