If a loved one has suffered fatal injuries that should have been prevented, or that occurred due to neglect, you may have the legal right to collect damages on their behalf. In this post, we will explore who under the law can seek damages and file a wrongful death claim in Washington State.
When someone dies due to the neglect of another person or entity, they are not able to sue for damages – and they are not able to hold the person or party responsible for what they have done. However, under Washington State law, the estate of the deceased person can sue in their stead for damages that include:
- Medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of parenting/loss of companionship
A Washington State wrongful death lawsuit is filed by a “personal representative” of the deceased person’s estate. This party is usually the same person who is the executor of the will, and is oftentimes (but not always) a surviving relative or someone who was close to the person who has passed away. Generally, the personal representative should be trustworthy and moral – they should not have conflicting interests and they should not have a criminal history. The person chosen should have the time, emotional well-being, and interest to take on this role.
The personal representative has a number of important responsibilities, including finding and selecting a WA wrongful death attorney, discussing settlement figures, and making all important final decisions about the case (such as whether to settle or go to trial).
Real Parties of Interest
“Real parties of interest” are people who are close to the person who passed away and are directly affected by their death. In addition to the personal representative, real parties of interest can join the wrongful death claim and seek damages. In Washington State, real parties of interest include:
- The spouse of the deceased (husband or wife).
- The children or stepchildren of the deceased.
- The parents of the deceased (ONLY if the deceased does not have a spouse or children).
- The siblings of the deceased (ONLY if the deceased does not have a spouse or children).
In the case of a child under the age of 18 that has died, parents who regularly contributed to that child’s support can file a wrongful death claim. In cases where the parents of the deceased child were never married, or were divorced or separated, the parent who files a wrongful death claim must inform the other parent within 20 days of filing the claim so they have the option of joining the claim.
Talk to an Attorney about a Wrongful Death Claim Today
Losing a loved one can be unbelievably overwhelming, devastating, and stressful. At The Ye Law Firm, we are dedicated to taking the burden of all legal issues related to your loss off your shoulders, while making certain you get the compensation you need and deserve under Washington State Law.
We offer free, confidential consultations. To learn more about your case from an experienced Washington wrongful death attorney, contact us today to schedule an appointment.