WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER IN BELLEVUE HELPING FAMILIES GET JUSTICE FOR THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE
The premature and unexpected loss of a loved one due to an accident is a traumatic and overwhelming event, especially when the death resulted from negligence and could have been prevented. In Washington, certain family members of a person killed in a wrongful death case may be entitled to compensation. Learn the fundamental aspects of initiating a wrongful death claim and what a wrongful death lawyer can do for you.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A WRONGFUL DEATH CASE IN WASHINGTON?
Wrongful death is considered a type of personal injury case, as it usually contains all the typical elements of a personal injury claim. These elements typically include the existence of an individual or entity that owed a duty of care toward others and the breach of that duty of care by negligence or reckless behavior. The breach resulted in an unsafe situation that led the plaintiff (the victim) to be injured and sustain damages. The damages and injury were a direct result of the defendant’s negligence. However, in a wrongful death case, the plaintiff’s injuries were so severe that the victim did not survive.
It is also important to mention that not all wrongful death cases are negligence-based, as, in certain instances, the victim’s death may have been caused by an intentional criminal act. Even if the party responsible for the plaintiff’s death receives a criminal sentence, that sentence does not typically include monetary restitution to the victim’s family. For that reason, a wrongful death case can be filed alongside a criminal case when applicable.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
In the state of Washington, a wrongful death claim can be initiated by the decedent’s representative, who is usually the same person acting as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. This person is typically a close relative such as a spouse or child but can also be a close friend. The personal representative has the task of contacting an attorney and taking the required steps to initiate the claim.
In addition, Washington state allows real parties of interest to join the wrongful death claim to receive compensation. The decedent’s spouse, parents, children, and stepchildren are possible examples of real parties of interest. If the decedent had no spouse or children, the parents or siblings of the decedent might act as real interested parties.
WHAT TYPE OF DAMAGES CAN BE AWARDED IN A WRONGFUL DEATH CASE?
In a wrongful death case, the decedent’s surviving relatives may seek reimbursement for various damages, including economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages may encompass a variety of financial losses resulting from the accident, injury, and passing of the decedent.
For example, suppose the plaintiff was injured in an accident and taken to the emergency room before passing away. In that case, any medical expenses generated between the time of the accident and the time the plaintiff passed away can be included as economic damages. In addition, other examples of economic damages are funeral expenses, lost wages, and property damage (such as a damaged or totaled vehicle).
But losing a loved one prematurely is a devastating experience from an emotional standpoint, so a wrongful death claim also accounts for the subjective aspects of the accident and death. The second type of damage is non-economic damage, which may include physical or emotional pain and suffering, loss of consortium or parenting, mental anguish, and other psychological aspects.
IS THERE A TIME LIMIT TO INITIATE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
In Washington, civil tort cases such as personal injury cases are subject to the state’s statute of limitations, which imposes a legal time limit for victims to initiate a claim to recover damages. Because a wrongful death claim is considered a type of personal injury case, surviving relatives of the victim should also observe the statute of limitations applicable to their claim.
The statute of limitations allows victims to initiate a claim not more than three years after the date of the accident. In most cases, the clock starts ticking on the date of the accident that led to the victim’s death, even if the victim passed away from their injuries at a later date. Even though it is difficult for family members to deal with, reaching out to a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible is the best route to take rather than risking having your claim lost due to the statute of limitations running out.
WHAT CAN A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER DO FOR ME?
Recruiting the help of a strong wrongful death lawyer is essential for the success of your claim because, like in any personal injury case, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff. In other words, it is up to whoever brings forth the claim to come up with evidence required to prove that the death occurred due to negligence or wrongdoing. Trying to take all the steps needed to put together a wrongful death claim while mourning the death of your loved one is overwhelming – if not impossible. A wrongful death attorney can handle every aspect of your case for you and help you fight for justice on behalf of your loved one.