Seattle Wrongful Death Lawyers
It is an understatement to say that losing someone unexpectedly is difficult. Losing a spouse, a parent, or a child can be devastating. It can alter the entire course of your life, and you may never feel quite the same. When a loved one’s passing was the result of another person’s, a professional’s, or a corporation’s negligence, you have to face another challenging element to their death. Someone else is to blame, and how can you hold them responsible?
In our current legal system, if no crime was committed, the only way to hold a careless, reckless, or malicious party responsible for the death of your loved one is through a civil wrongful death claim. Whether through an insurance claim or a lawsuit, you and other family members may have the right to demand compensation.
To discuss your rights and options after the death of a family member, contact Menzer Law Firm and schedule a free consultation with a Seattle wrongful death attorney.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims
Our wrongful death lawyers in Seattle often handle claims arising from:
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Nursing Home and Elder Neglect and Abuse
Whatever the type of accident or professional negligence that led to your loved one’s passing, we are here to help. Call us as soon as possible and after an initial investigation into the fatal incident, we can advise you on your options. If you have a valid legal claim against a responsible party, and your family wishes to pursue compensation, we can represent you in a wrongful death lawsuit and insurance claim.
Washington’s Wrongful Death Law
Washington’s wrongful death law is found in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 4.20.010–4.20.020.
When someone’s death is the result of another party’s wrongful act, neglect, or failure to act, then the court-appointed personal representative of the decedent’s estate can pursue an action for the economic and noneconomic damages sustained by the estate and the family beneficiaries.
A wrongful death action can be filed on behalf of the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner and children, including stepchildren. If the decedent passed away without leaving behind a spouse or children, then a wrongful death action can be brought for the benefit of the surviving parents and siblings.
Wrongful Death Compensation
A wrongful death action may include the damages suffered by the decedent before he or she died; the damages suffered by the Estate, and the damages suffered by the decedent’s close family member as a result of the loss.
Compensation in a wrongful death case may include:
- Economic damages on behalf of the decedent’s estate, such as medical expenses, burial and funeral expenses, and lost income;
- Noneconomic damages for pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, and humiliation suffered by the decedent prior to death;
- Noneconomic damages suffered by a surviving spouse or domestic partner, including “loss of consortium”; and
- Noneconomic damages suffered by other surviving relatives.
To discuss the types of compensation you and your loved ones can pursue, you should speak with an experienced Seattle wrongful death attorney from Menzer Law Firm.
Washington’s Wrongful Death Law Changes July 2019
In April 2019, Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB5163 into law. This bill updated Washington’s wrongful death law in regard to who could pursue a wrongful death claim and receive compensation.
Previously, parents could not pursue compensation for the loss of their adult child. Now, such a claim may be filed.
The Statute of Limitations
In Washington, you have a limited period of time to file a wrongful death lawsuit and pursue compensation. The statute of limitations is generally three years, which means you have three years from the date of your loved one’s death to file the claim. Other rules may apply, especially if the death occurred as the result of medical malpractice.
Whenever someone may be to blame for the death of a loved one, it is important to speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Your family will benefit from a lawyer investigating the circumstances of the death and gathering evidence before it may be lost or forgotten. If you wait too long before calling an attorney, important evidence may have been lost or degraded.
Wrongful Death Claims Differ From Survival Actions
Another type of legal claim you may pursue after a loved one’s death is a survival action, which is different from a wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim arises because of your loved one’s death. A survivor claim is a legal claim that arises during your relative’s life and survives their death. For example, if your loved one was severely injured in an accident and survived for weeks or months, accruing economic and noneconomic damages before they passed away, the personal injury claim may survive their death.
Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In Washington, that depends on whether you are the Personal Representative or Executor of the decedent’s estate. You can become the Personal Representative or Executor by being named in the Will or appointed by the probate court. If you aren’t the Personal Representative or Executor of the estate, then no, you can’t file the wrongful death lawsuit.
Can I get compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit?
You can receive compensation if the person who died was your spouse or registered domestic partner, parent, or stepparent. But if your loved one didn’t leave behind a spouse or children, then you can pursue compensation if you’re a surviving parent or sibling.
Will I have to go to court for a wrongful death case?
It depends. Sometimes making an insurance claim is enough. But you should talk with a lawyer about the benefits of filing a lawsuit and going to court. Your lawyer will prepare and file the wrongful death complaint and then appear in court on your behalf. Whether or not you’ll need to go through a trial depends on whether the other side is willing to settle. Many people resolve their cases through pre-trial settlements. It’s best to talk with an attorney about your specific circumstances.
What’s the average wrongful death settlement?
There is no average wrongful death settlement or court award because every case is unique in terms of how the person died, the degree to which the decedent suffered before his or her death, and the surviving relatives’ injuries. You should discuss with Matt Menzer how much the wrongful death claim might be worth and how much you might receive after compensation is divided among the eligible relatives.
Is wrongful death compensation taxed?
Generally, the compensation you receive through a wrongful death lawsuit isn’t taxed unless it’s for punitive damages. In the state of Washington, punitive damages are not allowed. The IRS excludes compensatory damages from income for tax purposes. If you’re worried about how a settlement or court award will impact your taxes, talk with a financial professional, such as a certified public accountant.
Call a Seattle Wrongful Death Attorney Today
When you lose a loved one as the result of another person’s or corporation’s negligence or other wrongdoing, we recommend you contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Seattle as soon as possible. Attorney Matt Menzer of Menzer Law Firm handles wrongful death claims with compassion and sensitivity, while also taking an aggressive approach to obtaining full and fair compensation for your family.
Contact Menzer Law Firm today at (206) 903-1818 to schedule a free case review.