Wrongful Death FAQs

What is the difference between a survival action claim and a wrongful death claim?

My family member was involved in a fatal accident and the insurance company sent a representative to the funeral. Is this normal?

What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in the state of Washington?

Are there Vehicular Homicide laws in Washington State?

If someone is killed at their place of work, what role would the employer-employee relationship have in the claim?

What is a principal-agent relationship?

What is the family car doctrine?

Can I file a wrongful death claim for the loss of my unborn child?

Can a parent collect damages for the wrongful death of their child if the child was over the age of 18 at the time of the accident?

Can a family collect damages for grief, sorrow and mental anguish over the death of a loved one?

How would I begin the process of filing a wrongful death claim?

My son was wrongfully killed in an auto accident in Washington State; he is 18 but recently got married and has a child. Who can file a wrongful death claim on his behalf?

What kind of settlement can I except to get if I file a wrongful death claim?

What are some of the leading factors that lead to wrongful death?

Why do I need an attorney if a loved one has died in an accident?

Am I entitled to collect money from the loss of my loved one?

How much do I have to pay to hire you as my attorney?

Can I change my lawyers if I am not happy with them. How much is that going to cost me?

What Is The Difference Between a Survival Action Claim and a Wrongful Death Claim?

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A survival action claim is filed when a victim that is injured by another person’s negligence doesn’t die from the injuries sustained until sometime later. Meaning that they died hours later, days later and sometimes even months later due to their injuries. The claim is filed by the estate of the deceased to help cover expenses incurred from the injury that lead to their death. Compensation from the claim aims to cover medical expenses incurred during the time between the accident and their death. Filing a claim will prevent the liable party from escaping responsibility just because their victim did not immediately die.

A wrongful death claim is different because it is filed by the family of the deceased victim. The claim is meant to compensate family members for their losses due to the death of their loved one. Wrongful death claims are filed when the victim dies immediately from an act of negligence by another person. Compensation is meant to cover the loss of financial support of the victim contributed a significant amount to the family’s income as well as the pain and suffering the family experiences and funeral and burial expenses.

Wrongful death claims are difficult and time consuming, if your family member was killed due to another person’s negligence it is best to talk to a wrongful death attorney who will know how best to handle your claim.

My Family Member Was Involved In a Fatal Accident and The Insurance Company Sent a Representative to the Funeral. Is This Normal?

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No! The insurance company will do whatever they can to take advantage of victims and they will do it when they know you are the most vulnerable. They should never show up at a funeral, but if this happens to you contact a wrongful death attorney immediately. It can be extremely painful going through a wrongful death claim on your own and a wrongful death lawyer will help you get a fair settlement instead of letting the insurance company take advantage of you when you are grief stricken. In this instance the insurance adjuster showed up at the funeral to offer a low settlement to the family, which is insensitive and unethical.

What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in the state of Washington?

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The statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim in Washington State is three years from the date of death. Meaning that you must either file your claim in court or have settled your case within this time frame or the case will no longer be valid. There are also certain situations where the statute of limitations may be shorter. If your loved one survived for a period of time after being injured the claim may need to be filed within three years from the date that the negligence was committed.

Due to the sensitivity of the issue a wrongful death claim should be investigated immediately following the person’s death, because the insurance company will always launch an immediate investigation for their defense. Gathering evidence can include getting witness statements, performing an accident reconstruction, obtaining a private autopsy, and hiring experts if necessary. In most cases doing these things will significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Wrongful death cases can be very confusing and many laws may be difficult to understand. It is important to contact a Washington wrongful death lawyer as soon as you can to find help determine whether or not you need an attorney to fight your case for you.

Are There Vehicular Homicide Laws in Washington State?

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Yes. Washington State does have specific statutes which allow for homicide charges to be brought against an individual who kills another person while operating a motor vehicle either intentionally or negligently. Drunk drivers that cause an auto accident that leads to another person’s death are generally charged with vehicular homicide.

If Someone Is Killed at Their Place of Work, What Role Would the Employer-Employee Relationship Have In The Claim?

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In the state of Washington, a separate claim may be brought against the at-faults employer if they were acting within the course of his or her employment when the accident occurred.

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In Washington State, if the at-fault party was acting to further a business or other relationship, the party that stood to benefit from the relationship (the principal) could be held liable for the wrongful conduct.

What Is The Family Car Doctrine?

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In the state of Washington, a family member (e.g., a parent or sibling) could be held responsible for the at-fault party’s actions in a fatal car accident if the at-fault driver is a young adult and the vehicle that was driven had been purchased and/or is maintained by the parent.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim For The Loss Of My Unborn Child?

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Yes, as long as the fetus was viable, meaning that the fetus was healthy and was expected to have been born healthy if death had not occurred. The wrongful death of that fetus is a recognized cause of action under the statute.

Can A Parent Collect Damages For The Wrongful Death Of Their Child If The Child Was Over The Age Of 18 At The Time Of The Accident?

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Only if the parents can prove that they were financially dependent on the young adult at the time of the accident. The young adult must also have been single and childless, if they were married and/or had children at the time of the accident then only those surviving relatives can benefit from a wrongful death claim.

Can A Family Collect Damages For Grief, Sorrow And Mental Anguish Over The Death Of A Loved One?

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In most cases the answer is no, family members may not collect damages for grief, sorrow and mental anguish suffered after their loss. The only exception to this in Washington State is when the case involves the wrongful death of a minor child. But the claim can only be made if the child dies when he or she is under the age of 18.

How Would I Begin The Process Of Filing A Wrongful Death Claim?

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The first thing that needs to happen is for the court to appoint a Personal Representative. This happens during a type of legal proceeding known as a probate action. A probate action is used to address the management of the deceased person’s estate. The prospective personal representative has to file a petition that includes a sworn statement to the courts. The personal representative is usually a family member or friend of the deceased but can also be a wrongful death attorney. They will usually be a person that is reputable and trustworthy; a criminal background may prevent someone from being named the personal representative. The personal representative will be able to file the wrongful death claim for the deceased person’s estate.

My Son Was Wrongfully Killed In An Auto Accident In Washington State; He Is 18 But Recently Got Married And Has A Child. Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim On His Behalf?

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Because your son was married and had a child at the time of his death, his wife would have to file a wrongful death claim. Any settlement gained from the lawsuit would be for the wife and child that he left behind. This amount would be meant to cover funeral and burial expenses, healthcare costs and potential loss of future earnings if he was working and/or supporting his family. His child may also file a claim and receive a settlement for the loss of the parent-child relationship.

There are certain circumstances, in which parents can file a claim on behalf of their adult child, but the child must not be married or have any children. Had this been the case and you were financially dependent on your son at the time of his death, and could prove that he was the main source of income in your household you would be able to file a wrongful death claim on his behalf. It is best to speak with an experienced Seattle wrongful death attorney to get more information about filing a claim.

What Kind Of Settlement Can I Except To Get If I File A Wrongful Death Claim?

This question can have many different answers that will generally depend on the deceased person’s surviving family members. If the deceased contributed significantly to the household, the estate may be able to recover for future lost earnings the deceased would have received during their normal life expectancy. The claim can also recover damages based on the pre-death suffering experienced by the victim if they did not die right away.

If you are filing a wrongful death claim as a surviving spouse your settlement may include amounts for loss of consortium (loss of care, love and sex), loss of future financial contributions that were expected from the deceased. If you had children with the deceased damages can also include the loss of the parent-child relationship.

If you are filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of your deceased child as parents you may recover damages for the destruction of the loss of the parent-child relationship and loss of consortium (love and care).

It can be extremely difficult to determine how much a settlement should be in any case and it may be necessary to bring in experts that can help calculate the damages.

What Are Some Of The Leading Factors That Lead To Wrongful Death?

There are a variety of circumstances that can lead to a wrongful death, but the commonality between all wrongful death cases is that someone’s or some company’s negligence caused the death of another person. Some examples of this kind of behavior are drunk driving, or speeding through a red light. Negligence can also be a medical error such as a hospital overdosing or prescribing medication that kills a patient.

There is such a wide variation of potential wrongful death cases that it requires an experienced wrongful death attorney to decipher whether or not you have a claim. For more information on Washington wrongful death you may order a copy of my book, “In Case of Death: Straight Talk on Washington Wrongful Death.” You may order your free copy of this book on our website.

Why Do I Need An Attorney If A Loved One Has Died In An Accident?

There are several reasons to hire an attorney if a loved one has died in an accident:

1) Wrongful death cases have a very complicated legal process, which requires the expertise and experience of a highly trained wrongful death attorney. Many rules and strategies take years for an attorney to learn and acquire. Because of this, it is crucial to speak with and evaluate an attorney before deciding to hire him or her. It is very difficult to pursue a wrongful death claim by yourself, and statistics show that hiring a lawyer will bring you more money, even after the attorney fee is taken out.

2) Only an experienced lawyer can assess and properly fight for the amount of compensation that is needed for the family of the deceased victim. Chances are, without an attorney, you will be unable to determine how much money you deserve to receive out of a wrongful death case.

3) Most importantly, you need an attorney because the insurance company will offer you very little money for the death of your loved one. Even though the insurance company understands how tragic the situation is, they are still running a business and do want to give you the lowest amount of money possible. Only a competent, aggressive, and experienced lawyer has the means, the knowledge, and the ability to sue the insurance companies and force them to give you the appropriate settlement that you are entitled to. You need to level the playing field by having someone on your side that has the experience to fight the insurance companies and your best interests in mind.

4) Lastly, when you have a lawyer, you don’t deal with any of the hassle, paperwork, headache and worry of dealing with insurance companies. You just sit back with the knowledge that an experienced lawyer who has your best interest in mind is going to handle your case and deal with the headache.

Am I Entitled To Collect Money From The Loss Of My Loved One?

Maybe, but it is very fact specific and is different for every single case. It also depends on how old your child is. The best thing to do would be to contact an experienced Seattle child injury lawyer that will listen to the facts of the case and help you decide whether or not you need an attorney to represent you.

How Much Do I Have To Pay To Hire You As My Attorney?

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Nothing. You don’t have to pay anything upfront. You hire us on a contingency basis, which means we don’t charge you anything unless we win your case. We even pay for all of the expenses associated with your case out of our own pocket. Also, if for any reason we don’t recover any money (for example if we find out later that the party at fault has no insurance), we still don’t charge you anything. However, when your case settles, we take a percentage of the settlement for our fees and costs. This percentage depends on whether your case resolves before litigation or after trial. Please note, however, that in Washington, the law requires that the client ultimately be responsible for reimbursing an attorney for costs advanced, even if the case is unsuccessful. Please contact us so that we can explain how this would work in your case.

Can I Change My Lawyers If I Am Not Happy With Them. How Much Is That Going To Cost Me?

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Fortunately, you can change your lawyer anytime at absolutely no cost to you. All you have to do is call us and let us know. We will immediately send a letter to your former attorney. As soon as they receive our letter, by law they are immediately obligated to forward your file to our office. Also, they are forbidden to contact you. You are not even required to inform them of your decision. Of course, if they have done substantial work in your case, they are entitled to get a portion of our fees for their contribution. This will only affect our fees and will not change your recovery.

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