Why File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Given that the only outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit will be monetary compensation, it may seem futile to pursue something that won’t ever bring your loved one back—but those who have filed such lawsuits point to the fact that it brings a sense of closure as well as accountability. No one should have to endure something as devastating as a wrongful death; a successful lawsuit can help make this a reality. If you have lost a loved one due to medical negligence in Washington, one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers in Issaquah can assist you in getting some closure.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Washington?
State law defines wrongful death as occurring when "the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another." Negligence can consist of either actions, omissions, or both. The Legal Information Institute (LII) defines negligence as a “failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”
Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought for negligence-based accidents such as automobile collisions, medical malpractice (which may include elements of negligence), and even for an intentional act, including death during the commission of a crime.
A wrongful death lawsuit is possible when the victim, were they to have lived, would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit, including medical situations. If you are considering a lawsuit in Washington after losing a loved one due to medical negligence, our medical malpractice lawyers in Issaquah will be there to help you get the compensation you need.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit hinges largely on the age of the victim and the relationship to the deceased of the party seeking to sue. Generally, if the victim is under 18 and not married or emancipated, the parents can file the action because of their love and support of their child.
Even if the victim is above 18 but the parents have “significant involvement” with their child, they can still file suit. Significant involvement is defined as giving or receiving emotional, psychological, or financial support, at or reasonably near the time of death, or at or reasonably near the time of the incident causing death.
If the person is above 18, married, or has children, then the law specifies that the deceased’s “personal representative” must file suit on behalf of the family. A personal representative is named in a person’s will to administer their estate upon death. If there is no will, the court will appoint a personal representative, usually a family member.
What Damages Are Available?
First, keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations on filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which in Washington is three years from the date of the person’s death. Our team of Issaquah wrongful death attorneys are here to help you navigate through the process.
A wrongful death lawsuit can recover expenses for the deceased’s medical care associated with the death and for burial and funeral expenses. The lawsuit can also recover compensation for the financial support the deceased would have provided if still alive, as well as for the value of household services the deceased would have tendered.
Non-economic damages are also available for the loss of love, care, affection, and companionship, along with the pain and suffering felt by the family members left behind.