Losing a loved one in a tragic accident can be devastating for the family members left behind. In addition to the emotional pain, survivors of the deceased may have a hard time surviving without the financial contributions and other services provided by the decedent. Under Washington law, certain parties are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court to recover monetary damages from the parties responsible for the death of the decedent.
Who can file a wrongful death suit in Washington?
According to the Revised Code of Washington, a wrongful death suit must be filed within three years of the date of the decedent’s death by their spouse or domestic partner, children or stepchildren, or the personal representative of their estate. If none of these parties exist, the decedent’s parents or siblings can file a claim. In cases involving the death of a child under 18, one or both parents may file a wrongful death lawsuit as long as they regularly contributed to the support of the child.
Proving your wrongful death claim
A wrongful death suit can stem from a variety of situations, including motor vehicle collisions, workplace accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, and medical malpractice. Generally, to prove wrongful death, you must be able to show that another party’s negligence, or intentional or reckless behavior, caused the death of your loved one. Your attorney will use eyewitness testimony, police reports, expert testimony, medical records, and photos and videos of the accident and accident scene to establish a breach of duty and causation of death. Your attorney will also need to show that the survivors have suffered financial loss because of the decedent’s death.
What damages can I recover?
If your lawsuit is successful, you can recover damages for the decedent’s medical expenses and pain and suffering, funeral and burial expenses, loss of income, loss of companionship, and loss of household services. While no amount of compensation can erase the pain of losing someone you love, it can provide you with financial stability as you process your grief.