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Washington State Wrongful Death Attorney Assisting Clients in Renton
Losing a loved one is never especially, particularly when the death resulted from a preventable accident. We know that the prospect of speaking with a lawyer about filing a civil claim can be extremely difficult when you are trying to recover from the unexpected loss of a spouse, parent, or sibling. At Khan Law Firm PLLC, we have years of experience helping families who have lost loved ones as a result of unintentional injuries and wrongful acts, and we are committed to providing each of our clients with compassionate advocacy that is tailored to their specific needs.
When you lose a loved one in an accident, it is important to learn more about how filing a wrongful death lawsuit may help to provide you with compensation for your losses and to bring some closure to you and your family. A compassionate Renton, WA wrongful death lawyer can talk with you today to learn more about your situation and can advise you on the next steps for filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
When you lose a family member, learning more about wrongful death law can feel difficult or even impossible. However, it is important to know that this area of law is designed specifically to help family members who have lost a loved one due to another party’s careless or reckless behavior. Every state has its own wrongful death laws, and Washington State is no different.
What is wrongful death under Washington law? Under Washington State’s wrongful death law (Wash. Rev. Code § 4.20.020), “when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another his or her personal representative may maintain an action for damages against the person causing the death; and although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances as amount, in law, to a felony.”
In other words, wrongful death law recognizes that an injury victim who suffers fatal injuries is no longer alive to file a personal injury lawsuit for himself or herself. As such, the law says that a “personal representative” of the deceased may step into the shoes of that person and file a claim on his or her behalf. Wrongful death law gives a person—typically a spouse or another close family member—the ability to file a lawsuit that looks a lot like a personal injury claim on behalf of a deceased person who cannot file the lawsuit himself because he suffered fatal injuries.
Who can file a wrongful death claim? As we mentioned, the statute clarifies that wrongful death claims must be filed by the “personal representative” of the deceased. Who can become a personal representative for the purposes of filing a lawsuit? The personal representative usually is one of the following people:
Most frequently, a wrongful death claim is filed by a surviving spouse or domestic partner, and if there is no surviving spouse or domestic partner then by one of the deceased’s surviving children. Any of those parties also may serve as the representative of the estate in the role of executor or executrix. If no such people exist, then the siblings of the deceased also may be permitted to file a claim.
You might have noticed that the Washington wrongful death statute refers to a situation that may amount to a felony offense. It is important to understand that wrongful death lawsuits are civil claims—not criminal lawsuits. A person’s responsibility or liability in a wrongful death lawsuit does not mean that the person will go to jail. Instead, the responsible party can be liable for damages (or financial compensation).
Plaintiffs can be eligible to receive two different kinds of compensatory damages in a wrongful death lawsuit: economic and non-economic damages. These damages can compensate for many different losses, including but not limited to:
All civil lawsuits come with a statute of limitations. This is the amount of time that a plaintiff has to file a claim before the law bars her from filing a lawsuit. Wrongful death claims must be filed within three (3) years from the date of the deceased’s death.
It is important to underscore that the date of death is not the same as the date of the accident. While the statute of limitations in personal injury cases typically begins running on the date of the accident in which the party suffered injuries, a wrongful death statute of limitations begins on the date of death. As such, if the deceased actually lived for several months or even years after an accident but later succumbed to those injuries, a wrongful death case would only need to be filed within three years from the death date. In some cases, this could mean that the wrongful death claim is initiated many years after the deceased initially sustained injuries in an accident.
At Khan Law Firm PLLC, we know how difficult it can be to think about speaking with a lawyer when you are grieving over the death of a loved one. We also know how difficult it can be to survive without the income of a spouse or parent, not to mention the companionship and love that person provided. When another party’s negligence or harmful act causes another person’s death, the surviving family members deserve to seek compensation for their losses.
A dedicated Renton wrongful death attorney can examine the facts of your case and can speak with you about filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact the Khan Law Firm PLLC to learn more about how we can assist with your wrongful death claim.