Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case on Behalf of My Son?
My son was wrongfully killed in an auto accident in Washington State. He is 18 but recently got married and has a child.
Because the decedent was married and had a child, under the Washington law that child and spouse are statutory beneficiaries and will be able to bring a wrongful death claim. A personal representative will have to be appointed to bring that claim. Once that personal representative is appointed by the court, then a lawsuit can be filed on behalf of the two statutory beneficiaries that we mentioned.
If there is more than one statutory beneficiary who is entitled to recover money, then a court will have to perform what’s called a reasonableness hearing to determine which statutory beneficiary gets which portion of the amount of money recovered. The amount recovered in a wrongful death claim is meant to cover things such as the future lost wages of the decedent, in addition to the loss of the relationship with that person. Obviously, that can be a substantial amount because there’s no way that you can replace a loved one.
So, Who Can Bring a Claim?
In theory, each statutory beneficiary has a separate claim for the loss of their relationship. So, in this example, the spouse would have a claim for the loss of the husband/wife relationship, and the child would have a separate claim for the loss of the parent/child relationship. Each of those are separate and distinct elements of damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death case.
Now, in your question, your child was over the age of 18. If you can show that you are substantially financially dependent on your child, then you as the parent may also be able to bring a wrongful death claim as a statutory beneficiary.
Read more of our blog posts on the topic of wrongful deaths.