If you have reached this page because a loved one has passed away and you believe it may be considered a wrongful death, let us first say how deeply sorry we are for your loss. Here at Premier Law Group of Seattle, we understand how emotionally difficult it is to consider taking legal action over a loved one’s death, and we are here to provide you with the support and information you need to make this process as easy as possible on you.
In general, a death is considered a wrongful death if it was the result of someone else’s negligence. There are a variety of ways in which this can happen, such as car accidents, pedestrian collisions, motorcycle accidents, trucking accidents, bicycle accidents and many more. If a loved one has passed away, you probably have a lot of questions and this page is meant to provide you with as much information as we can to help answer those questions.
The majority of wrongful death cases that we take at Premier Law Group deal with transportation-related fatalities. There were nearly 40,000 deaths that occurred last year on our nation’s streets and highways. This number is deeply saddening, which is why we fight so hard through our program “Teens Against Distracted Driving” to help reduce this number. We also take pride in fighting on behalf of the families who have had to endure such losses. Losing a close family member can have devastating effects, including mental and emotional trauma, as well as financial consequences. When these deaths are caused by the negligence of someone else, the victim’s family is entitled to seek these damages, and will most likely be best served by hiring an experienced wrongful death attorney.
What is a Wrongful Death Case?
A death is a wrongful death if it is caused by the negligence of someone else. This means that someone else must have done something they shouldn’t have, or not done something they should have. One example would be if somebody ran a red light and hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk – resulting in injuries that led to a fatality. The negligent individual would be liable for the damages. Liability changes from situation to situation, and it is based on various laws and previous cases determined in the state. It is difficult to determine whether or not you have a wrongful death case without speaking to a Seattle injury attorney who can hear all the details of your case.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases
There are two types of wrongful death claims: general claims and survival claims. General claims compensate the “beneficiaries,” or relatives, of the deceased victim, while survival claims compensate the person who died, through his or her estate. The beneficiaries who can receive compensation are limited to spouses, children or stepchildren, as well as parents or siblings who are financially dependent on the deceased. Emotional dependence does not count as a form of dependence, so it needs to be strictly financial. The money that can be recovered for wrongful death claims are known as “damages,” and these can range from lost wages and medical bills to non-financial losses such as loss of the relationship and mental anguish.
How a Wrongful Death Claim Works
The wrongful death process is very complicated and can be rather difficult to understand for those without a lot of experience in the subject. Our injury attorneys Jason Epstein and Patrick Kang wrote on book on Washington Wrongful Death to help out those who need in-depth information on the topic. Here is a broad overview to help give you a better idea of what you will need to do if a loved one has suffered a wrongful death.
The first step in filing a wrongful death case is appointing a personal representative for the deceased. This is usually one of the beneficiaries discussed earlier. A summons and complaint will then be brought to the at-fault party, and once this happens, the lawsuit begins. There is a statute of limitations in the State of Washington that requires you to begin the lawsuit within three years of the wrongful death. If you wait longer than this, you can no longer seek damages for the death. If you file the lawsuit properly then the case will enter the “discovery” phase, where both sides will work to strengthen their respective cases and better understand the arguments coming from the opposing side. Before going to trial, the case could go through alternative dispute resolutions, such as mediation and arbitration. If the case cannot be settled, then it will go to trial. Again, this is a very complicated process, and each case is different. To get a better understanding of exactly what you should do for your case, you should contact our Seattle, Bellevue, or Vancouver office and speak to an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
How Premier Law Group Will Help You
First, we will help you decide whether you even need a lawyer – if you can settle your case on your own, our free book can help provide the guidance you need to do just that. For more complex cases, you will want to have an attorney to get the best settlement possible. Remember, the trauma you experience right after car accidents can be the tip of the iceberg. It is not until you have healed fully that you can know about the full nature and extent of your injuries, including if you have any permanent damage. Insurance companies will pressure you to settle before you know the full extent of the impact of an accident. That’s not right, and we will stand up for you! We will:
- Listen carefully to your needs, questions and concerns
- Handle ALL the legal issues so you can focus on healing
- Deal with the insurance companies – sometimes there are more than one!
- Order all medical records and bills related to your injuries
- Walk you through the litigation process so you fully understand what is happening
- Communicate with you regularly so you know how your case is progressing