Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Understanding the Basics
The death of a loved one is a difficult time. For those who have lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence or recklessness, the pain and anger can be unbearable. A wrongful death lawsuit can help families recover compensation for damages including financial losses and emotional distress.
When seeking damages for a wrongful death, it’s important to understand the basics of wrongful death lawsuits. Bellevue, WA, attorneys Matthew Quick and Elizabeth Quick would like to take a moment to highlight the basics those considering a wrongful death lawsuit should know.
What’s Considered a Wrongful Death?
Not all deaths resulting from an accident are considered wrongful. In order to be considered a wrongful death, the death needs to be a result of another party’s negligence or misconduct, such as:
- Car accidents - A death resulting from a car accident caused by a negligent or reckless driver, for example, someone speeding, driving while distracted, or driving under the influence, may be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Construction site accidents - A death on a construction site may be considered wrongful if it occurred due to another person’s negligence, such as an employer for things such as failing to provide necessary safety equipment or proper training.
- Homicide - Although homicide is a criminal matter, a wrongful death lawsuit may also be filed against the accused.
- Medical malpractice death - When a death is caused by medical malpractice, it may be possible to recover financial compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The law limits who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Bellevue and the state of Washington the following people may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased:
- Certain family members - Family members who can file a wrongful death lawsuit include the deceased’s spouse, registered domestic partner, children, or stepchildren. If the deceased doesn’t have any of these family members, then their parents or siblings may be able to file a lawsuit.
- Parents of minor children - If a wrongful death has occurred in someone under 18, their parents may file a claim. Parents may file separate claims if they aren’t married.
- Personal representative of the estate - If an executor or personal representative was appointed in the deceased’s will, then they may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate.
What’s the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death?
It’s important to consult an attorney and file a wrongful death claim as soon as possible. This helps with gathering evidence but just as importantly helps claims fall within the restrictions of the statute of limitations.
In Washington, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the victim’s death. The statute of limitations may be extended if the negligence that caused the death wasn’t immediately discovered.
Types of Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Both economic and non-economic damages may be sought in a wrongful death lawsuit. These may include:
- Loss of income from the family member’s death
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Property loss
- Loss of support
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
In order to hold someone liable for a wrongful death, it must be proved that negligence or misconduct occurred and caused the death. In addition, it must be proved that the death caused the damages being sought by the deceased’s family or estate.
Because the burden of proof is on the deceased’s representative, it’s important to consult an attorney. A wrongful death attorney can gather evidence to support your wrongful death claim.
Schedule a Consultation
If you have lost a loved one and believe their death was caused by negligence or misconduct, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. To discuss your claim, call our Bellevue office at (425) 576-8150 or schedule a consultation online.