If you lose a loved one due to the negligence of another, Seattle wrongful death lawyers can help you. Losing a loved one is a tragedy. You can hold the guilty party accountable through a wrongful death lawsuit that seeks fair compensatory damages. The damages can’t bring back the loved one you have lost but it can financially help the survivors, making sure they are not left in distress.
When you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to understand the relevant state laws, the legal best practices and other aspects of the claim. Here’s a look at these.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims are filed when you lose a loved one due to the negligence of another person or entity. Following are some of the most common types of wrongful death claims:
- Road Accident Fatalities: Such fatalities include deaths caused by car, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian and bicycle accidents. Even in the case of single-vehicle accidents, the negligence of another party is often involved. A dangerous pothole in the road causing a fatal accident, for instance, is a case where negligence lies with the authority tasked with maintenance of the road.
- Workplace Deaths: If a person dies due to the illness or injury incurred at the workplace, this may be covered under wrongful death claims.
- Premises Liability Accidents: Such accidents include deaths caused by an object or a slip-and-fall incident. In the case of such deaths, liability often lies with the entity tasked with maintaining the premises where the incident occurs.
Washington State Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death
Washington State has a statute of limitations of three years for wrongful death cases. This means that if you lose a loved one, you must settle your case within a period of three years from the date of death. Alternatively, if the case is not settled, you must file a claim against the negligent party within the same period of time.
Wrongful death cases typically involve deaths that occur the same time as the negligence is committed. However, in some cases, the victim may survive for a period after the negligence. It is important to note that even in such an instance, the three-year period will be counted from the date of the negligence, and not from the date of the death of the victim.
The state may also bring forth a criminal case against the negligent party in some wrongful death cases. The statute remains in place for civil litigation regardless of whether or not a criminal case is filed.
Things To Do After a Wrongful Death
Losing a loved one due to the negligence of another is a very traumatic experience. However, amidst the grief and the shock, it is important to take the right steps after such a loss to ensure that the responsible party is held accountable. Here are some important things to do if you suspect an accident was a wrongful death:
- Collect evidence. It is critically important to gather on-site evidence. If a person died in a car crash or a workplace accident, you should take photos of the accident scene, talk to witnesses and see if you can get access to the recordings of any cameras nearby. The more evidence you have, the stronger will be your wrongful death case.
- Note Details of the Deceased. Where was the victim just before the incident occurred? Why was the victim at the place where the fatal accident took place? These and other details about the deceased can help connect the dots and make it easier to identify negligence.
- Identify Everyone Involved. A wrongful death may involve not one or two but several parties. Make sure you identify all the persons and companies involved. In the case of product liability suits, it is useful to list all the relevant products as well.
- Contact the Insurance Company. It is important to notify the insurance company at the earliest about the death of the deceased. You may also reveal that you aim to move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Hire Seattle wrongful death lawyers. When you notify the insurers, they will try to turn down your claim or pay you a tiny amount. This is when you need the help of a good attorney on your side. Make sure you hire one before dealing with the insurance companies.
Wrongful Death Laws in Washington State
Wrongful death laws keep evolving over time. This is why it is always helpful to consult professional Seattle wrongful death lawyers when you are considering a lawsuit after losing a dear one. In 2019, changes were made by the Washington State Legislature to the statutes that apply to the filing of wrongful death claims in the state. These changes significantly expanded the types of damages that can be recovered as well as the categories of people who can file the suit. As per the amendments, the following people can file a wrongful death claim for the deceased:
- The spouse, registered partner or children of the deceased will have the first priority to file the lawsuit. Stepchildren are also included in this category.
- In the absence of any claimants from the above categories, others who can file the suit include the parents or siblings of the deceased.
Previously, state laws stipulated that the parents and siblings of the deceased can file for compensatory damages only if they reside in the United States. The latest changes to the statutes do away with this requirement so that the parents or siblings can file for damages whether or not they reside in the country.
Another update in state laws defines the type of damages you can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit. Before the amendments, the law stated that you can recover damages in general. The latest changes now specify that you can recover both economic and non-economic damages.
Why Hire Seattle Wrongful Death Lawyers?
Wrongful death lawsuits can be fairly complicated affairs. This is why it is highly advised that you retain reliable Seattle wrongful death lawyers before you file such a lawsuit. Here at TorkLaw, we believe in compassionate representation for claimants in such a lawsuit. We understand that you have faced a tragic loss and are going through a hard time. So our attorneys can handle all the legal work on your behalf and ensure that you get a fair compensation for your loss. Contact us today to book a FREE consultation with our attorneys.