Learning that a loved one has unexpectedly passed away has a profound effect on you and your family. In addition to making arrangements for a burial and paying any outstanding medical bills, you will also need to evaluate how your family will support itself moving forward.
One viable option may be to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. These lawsuits may be appropriate when another person or company’s actions were a direct contributor to your loved one’s death. An Auburn wrongful death lawyer could evaluate your case to determine if a legal claim is appropriate. If so, they could then work to pursue compensation for all of your family’s present and future losses. While a personal injury suit cannot begin to make up for the pain you are experiencing, it could help bring financial stability and comfort back into your family’s future.
How to Determine if a Death is Wrongful According to State Law
While every death is a tragedy that can have a devastating impact on the surviving family members, not every loss of life justifies a wrongful death lawsuit. Many people die from natural causes for which no one is responsible.
Only specific circumstances provide the basis for a wrongful death claim. Under the Revised Code of Washington § 4.20.010, a wrongful death lawsuit is appropriate when a death was the product of neglect, fault, or an unjust act of another person. This means that a case could move forward if another individual would have been liable for a personal injury claim had the victim survived the event. Examples include:
- Car, truck, or motorcycle crashes
- Traffic accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability claims, such as injuries due to slip and falls
The fact that a defendant did not intend to cause harm does not mean that they are not responsible for their actions. Even in situations resulting in death, the law states that negligent parties must provide full compensation to their victims. An Auburn wrongful death attorney could help a family pursuing a suit better understand the basis for a wrongful death under Washington state law.
Special Rules that Apply to Wrongful Death Cases
In some ways, wrongful death cases are similar to other personal injury lawsuits. The people seeking compensation must prove that another party was responsible for the incident and demonstrate the extent of their losses. However, the fact that the main victim of a wrongful death accident is now deceased does raise a few complex legal questions.
Who Can Pursue These Cases in Court?
Normally, the victim of an accident or violent act has the sole ability to demand financial reimbursement in court or through an insurance settlement. However, in wrongful death cases, this is an impossibility. Instead, RCW § 4.20.010 grants the sole authority to act as a plaintiff in a wrongful death case to the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. People or organizations serving in this capacity should reach out to a capable attorney for help filing and pursuing wrongful death cases in Auburn.
Who Might a Wrongful Death Case Benefit?
While personal representatives have the sole ability to pursue these claims, only a small set of people may be able to collect compensation from liable defendants. RCW § 4.20.020 states that eligible parties include a decedent’s:
- Domestic partner
These individuals can demand monetary damages for the ways that the event has changed their lives. This can include payments for medical costs, funeral bills, lost earning potential, lost emotional support, as well as pain and suffering.
Seek Help from a Compassionate Auburn Wrongful Death Attorney
A sudden and unexpected death can throw a family into complete chaos. While the loss can have substantial financial consequences for you and your family, the event may also affect your emotional well-being and ability to cope with the future.
An Auburn wrongful death lawyer wants to help you and your family move forward from this painful and traumatic time. Their aim is to win the compensation that you deserve and to help bring you and your family security and closure. Reach out to one of our caring and capable attorneys today to get started on your claim.