Feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about the future is not unusual in the midst of loss and grief. At Bungay Law, we are here to stand with you during this difficult time. Our experienced wrongful death lawyer can help ease the burden by handling complex legal processes and fighting for the justice your loved one deserves.
We have tremendous experience with wrongful death lawsuits and a Seattle wrongful death attorney from our law firm can also help you with your wrongful death case. Learn more about filing wrongful death claims below, and let our Seattle personal injury attorneys discuss a wrongful death suit with you as well.
Our dedicated team works diligently to provide comprehensive support for families grappling with a wrongful death action. Some of the ways we can help you include:
A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit brought against a party who is believed to be responsible for the death of another person through negligence or deliberate action. This is a legal action that pursues compensation on behalf of someone who has suffered a financial loss following the death of an individual in some way. This compensation can include medical expenses, lost income, and intangible losses.
Wrongful death claims in Washington arise from a variety of scenarios. A few common causes include:
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of wrongful death claims. These accidents can involve passenger cars, motorcycles, commercial trucks, pedestrians, or cyclists. Common causes include:
These accidents can be devastating, resulting in the loss of life and future income, companionship, and security for the family members left behind. As the complexities surrounding these cases can be overwhelming, seeking legal assistance from experienced wrongful death attorneys who can navigate the intricate details of motor vehicle laws and insurance claims is important.
Workplace and construction site accidents also frequently result in wrongful death claims. These environments are often fraught with risks due to heavy machinery, high heights, and hazardous materials.
Employers must maintain a safe work environment by providing proper training, maintaining equipment, and implementing safety protocols. They may be liable for wrongful death when they fail in this duty, which leads to fatal accidents.
Another common cause of wrongful death claims is product defects. These can range from defective vehicles (like cars with faulty brakes) to hazardous household items, malfunctioning appliances, or dangerous drugs and medical devices.
Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers must ensure their products are safe for consumers. They must warn adequately about potential risks and not release products with design or manufacturing defects. When these obligations are not met and result in a fatality, a wrongful death claim may be brought against the responsible parties.
Medical malpractice is another prevalent cause of wrongful death claims. Medical malpractice means that a medical provider, such as a nurse or doctor, did not provide the expected level of care, causing someone to be harmed somehow.
This can include surgical errors, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, medication errors, childbirth injuries, or neglect during post-operative care. When these errors result in death, the surviving family members may have a viable wrongful death claim.
In all these instances, the guidance and expertise of a seasoned wrongful death attorney is crucial. Rely on our lawyers to provide you with the legal advice you need.
In Washington State, the following parties are generally permitted to file a wrongful death claim:
The deceased’s parents or siblings may file a claim if there’s no surviving spouse or children.
The process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit involves several important steps. Each stage serves a vital function in building a strong case and pursuing justice for the deceased. The steps in this process include:
While this process may seem daunting, a skilled wrongful death attorney will guide you through each step, ensuring that your case is effectively presented and your interests are fiercely protected. We will provide you with legal guidance and emotional support during this time.
Proving a wrongful death lawsuit is not a straightforward task. It requires the plaintiff to satisfy several legal requirements, known as the ‘elements‘ of a wrongful death claim. The elements include:
The first step in a wrongful death claim is to demonstrate that the defendant had a legal responsibility, or a “duty of care,” to the deceased. This means they were obligated to behave in a certain manner to protect the safety and well-being of the dead. The specifics of this duty can vary depending on the circumstances.
For example, all drivers have a duty of care to drive safely, obey traffic laws, and pay attention to the road to avoid causing harm to other road users. Similarly, doctors must provide their patients with standard medical care, and product manufacturers must produce safe products and warn consumers of potential risks.
It must be shown that the defendant breached or violated their duty of care. This means that they failed to meet the expected behavior standard in the circumstances. This can occur through negligent behavior (such as texting while driving), reckless actions (like driving under the influence), or intentionally harmful acts.
After establishing the breach of duty, it must be shown that this breach was a direct cause of the death. This is often the most challenging part of a wrongful death claim. It requires proving a clear link between the defendant’s actions and the death that occurred. In some cases, expert witnesses like accident reconstruction specialists or medical experts may be needed to establish this causal link.
Lastly, it must be demonstrated that the plaintiff (usually a close relative or the estate of the deceased) suffered measurable harm, or damages, due to the death. Damages can take many forms, and they are not just limited to financial losses, although those often form a significant part of the compensation. They can include:
A plaintiff can make a strong case for a wrongful death claim by satisfying these four elements.
Compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit can be awarded to the following:
Spouses, children, and parents of unmarried children often receive compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Individuals financially dependent on the deceased, such as a live-in partner or dependent adult, may be eligible for compensation.
Other family members, such as siblings or grandparents, may benefit from a wrongful death claim in certain circumstances.
In Washington State, a wrongful death claim should be filed within three years of the deceased’s death as per RCW 4.16.080. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. If a claim is not filed within this period, it may be dismissed by the court.
In wrongful death cases, compensation can be sought for a variety of damages, including:
The specific amount of damages awarded will vary based on the circumstances of each case.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, our team at Bungay Law is here to support you during this challenging time. At Bungay Law, we are honored to provide support and legal representation for families during some of the most difficult times of their lives. Please give us a call today to schedule a free case consultation. You do not have to go through this process alone. Our legal team can help you.
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