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Washington wrongful death lawyer

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.

How Our Washington Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help Your Family

How our Washington wrongful death lawyer can help your family

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:

  • Gathering Evidence and Conducting Investigations: The foundation of any wrongful death lawsuit is substantial, relevant evidence. Our team will conduct thorough investigations, collect crucial details, secure expert witnesses, and compile a compelling case to prove negligence.
  • Identifying Liable Parties and Establishing Negligence: A vital aspect of a wrongful death claim is identifying the party or parties responsible for the incident. Our team will investigate the facts to determine the responsible parties and help establish their negligence or misconduct.
  • Calculating Damages and Potential Compensation: The financial impact of a wrongful death can be significant. Our team will calculate the damages - including lost earnings, medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering - to ensure your family receives the full compensation you're entitled to.
  • Negotiating With Insurance Companies and Opposing Counsel: Dealing with insurance companies or opposing counsel can be daunting. Our experienced lawyers will handle all negotiations on your behalf, striving to achieve the maximum possible settlement for your case.
  • Representing the Client in Court if the Case Goes to Trial: Our lawyers are well-prepared to represent your interests in court if a fair settlement cannot be reached. We will tirelessly fight for justice for your loved one and the compensation you deserve.

About Wrongful Death Claims

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.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims in Washington

Common causes of wrongful death claims

Wrongful death claims in Washington arise from a variety of scenarios. A few common causes include:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

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:

  • Distracted driving;
  • Reckless or aggressive driving;
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • Speeding; and
  • Poor vehicle maintenance.

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/Construction Accidents

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.

Product Defects

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

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.

People Who Can File a Washington Wrongful Death Lawsuit

People who can file a wrongful death lawsuit

In Washington State, the following parties are generally permitted to file a wrongful death claim:

  • The personal representative of the deceased person's estate;
  • The surviving spouse or registered domestic partner; and
  • The deceased's children or stepchildren.

The deceased's parents or siblings may file a claim if there's no surviving spouse or children.

Steps in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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:

  • Investigation: The initial phase of a wrongful death claim involves a thorough investigation. During this step, lawyers, investigators, and experts will gather all pertinent facts and evidence about the death. This may include police reports, medical records, witness statements, accident scene photographs, video surveillance, and other relevant data.
  • Filing the Lawsuit: The next step is to file a lawsuit in the appropriate court. This involves drafting and filing a 'complaint,' which outlines the legal basis for the claim and the types of damages sought. The complaint will describe in detail how the defendant's negligence or wrongful act resulted in the victim's death and how the plaintiff has suffered.
  • Discovery: Once the lawsuit is filed, the discovery phase begins. This is a period where both sides exchange information about the case through depositions, interrogatories (written questions that should be answered under oath), and requests to produce documents. Each side can examine the evidence the other side plans to use in court. This step helps each party better understand the other's case and prepare their arguments.
  • Negotiation: Many cases move into a negotiation period after the discovery phase. During this step, lawyers for each side will discuss the case to reach a fair settlement agreement without needing a trial. Often, mediation is used during this phase. Mediation involves a neutral third party (the mediator) facilitating discussion and negotiation between the parties to help them resolve. If a settlement agreement can be reached that satisfies both parties, the case will end here.
  • Trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial. Each side will present their case at trial, including evidence and witness testimony. This may involve expert testimony from medical professionals, accident reconstruction experts, financial experts, and others who can provide valuable insights into the aspects of the case. The judge or jury will decide whether the defendant is liable and, if so, what amount of damages they must pay to the plaintiff.

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 Claim

Proving a wrongful death claim

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 Defendant Owed the Deceased a Duty of Care

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.

The Defendant Breached That Duty

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.

The Breach of Duty Caused Death

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.

You Suffered Damages Due to the Death

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:

  • Economic damages: These refer to the financial losses related to the death. They can include funeral and burial costs, loss of the deceased's income, loss of potential future earnings, medical expenses incurred prior to death, and any other financial costs directly linked to the death.
  • Non-economic damages: These are intended to compensate for the more intangible effects of the death. They can include the loss of companionship, emotional distress, pain, and suffering, and the loss of consortium (the loss of the benefits of a family relationship).

A plaintiff can make a strong case for a wrongful death claim by satisfying these four elements.

Beneficiaries of a Wrongful Death Claim

Compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit can be awarded to the following:

Immediate Family Members

Spouses, children, and parents of unmarried children often receive compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Financial Dependents

Individuals financially dependent on the deceased, such as a live-in partner or dependent adult, may be eligible for compensation.

Extended Family

Other family members, such as siblings or grandparents, may benefit from a wrongful death claim in certain circumstances.

The Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Washington

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.

Compensation and Damages in Washington Wrongful Death Cases

In wrongful death cases, compensation can be sought for a variety of damages, including:

  • Medical expenses related to the deceased's final illness or injury.
  • Funeral and burial costs.
  • Loss of the deceased's expected earnings.
  • Loss of benefits, such as pension plans or medical coverage.
  • Loss of inheritance caused by an untimely death.
  • Pain and suffering of the survivors.
  • Loss of companionship, protection, and care.

The specific amount of damages awarded will vary based on the circumstances of each case.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney at Bungay Law

Schedule a free consultation with our experienced wrongful death attorney

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.

Contact Bungay Personal Injury Law today For a Free Consultation 206-769-0093

Contact Bungay Personal Injury Law today For a Free Consultation 206-769-0093

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