Wrongful Death – The Basics

Losing a loved one is an emotionally trying time full of grief and sadness. When the death was sudden and unexpected, the mix of emotions often includes confusion, denial, and anger. If the sudden death of a loved one was the result of someone’s negligence, your family may have legal options that can at least help ease the financial hardship caused by the loss.

Your legal options will depend on a number of factors; however, one option may be to file as a claimant in wrongful death lawsuit. Understanding the basic concepts involved in a wrongful death lawsuit may help you decide whether it is something you should pursue.

In the State of Washington, a wrongful death lawsuit is based on the concept of negligence, in most cases. However, a wrongful death lawsuit can also be based on the intentional wrongful conduct of the defendant. Only certain people are allowed to file as claimants in a wrongful death lawsuit, and a court must appoint a personal representative for the decedent’s estate before a wrongful death lawsuit can proceed.

Washington State has a two-tiered system that dictates who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. In the first tier are the surviving spouse and children. In the second tier are parents or siblings; however, second-tier individuals can file only if they were financially dependent on the deceased. If you are not in the first or second tier then you are not allowed to file as a claimant in a wrongful death lawsuit in the State of Washington. If the deceased was a minor child, there are slightly different rules.

If your wrongful death lawsuit is successful, you may be able to recover economic and non-economic damages for both you and for the estate of the decedent. This is because both a claim for you and a claim for the estate of the decedent can be filed in a wrongful death lawsuit. The amount of compensation will depend on a variety of factors and can be analyzed only by an experienced wrongful death attorney.

If you have lost a loved one and you believe that someone else was partially, or totally, to blame for the death, you could be entitled to compensation for your loss. The Yakima Valley wrongful death attorneys at Mariano Morales Law can help you get through the legal process and make sure the party responsible for your loss is held accountable. Contact the team today by calling (509) 853-2222 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.