Any accident that results in serious injury can produce heavy financial and emotional burdens for those involved, especially if they stem from another person’s misconduct. When a negligent or wrongful act leads directly to someone’s premature death, the prospect of “recovering” afterwards is more about stabilizing the future prospects of surviving family members.
In this kind of situation, guidance from a compassionate personal injury attorney can play a significant role in protecting your family’s financial security while you work through your grief and determine how to move forward with your lives. Even if you are unsure what legal action you may want to take, a conversation with a Lakewood wrongful death lawyer could provide the answers you need to make the best decision for your loved ones.
Unique Rules for Wrongful Death Claims
To some extent, wrongful death litigation in the state of Washington works the same as other forms of personal injury litigation. Claims are often still based around establishing negligence by the named defendant(s), and a successful case result allows recovery for various economic and non-economic damages caused by the incident. As a Lakewood wrongful death attorney could explain, there are numerous restrictions set by state law that apply exclusively to claims pursuing restitution for a wrongful death.
Most importantly, after an adult’s premature death, Revised Code of Washington § 4.20.010 grants the exclusive right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to the decedent’s official estate representative, which is typically someone named in their will. Furthermore, RCW § 4.20.020 limits eligible “beneficiaries”—individuals who may receive compensation—in a successful wrongful death claim to the decedent’s:
- Lawful spouse or domestic partner
- Children by birth, adoption, or marriage
- Parents or siblings (if none of the aforementioned parties are available)
Finally, it is worth noting that somewhat different rules apply to wrongful death claims filed on behalf of deceased minors. In these situations, RCW § 4.24.010 allows any parent or guardian who made regular financial contributions to supporting the child in question to file or join an ensuing wrongful death lawsuit.
What Damages May Be Recoverable by a Wrongful Death Claim?
The primary purpose of a wrongful death claim is to compensate eligible surviving family members for losses they have already sustained and will experience in the future because of their loved one’s death. To that end, damages that a wrongful death lawyer in Lakewood could potentially help incorporate into a comprehensive claim include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Outstanding medical bills for treatment the decedent received between their accident and their eventual death
- Lost future financial support, sometimes including loss of future inheritance
- Lost household services and support
- Lost affection, companionship, care, and training
In cases pursued by parents or guardians of deceased minors, it may be possible to recover for the child’s medical expenses, lost future financial support and/or household services, lost companionship and emotional support, and “destruction of the parent-child relationship,” as per RCW § 4.24.010.
Learn How a Lakewood Wrongful Death Attorney Could Help
No financial award or court verdict could ever make up for the hole that a loved one’s unexpected death leaves in the lives of family members and friends left behind. That said, civil recovery through a wrongful death claim could be key to ensuring you and your family are not left with additional financial burdens to bear on top of your grief after a tragic incident.
A Lakewood wrongful death lawyer could discuss your options in detail and offer guidance about possible next steps during a confidential consultation. Call us whenever you feel ready to schedule a meeting.