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Frequently Asked Questions about Wrongful Death Claims

When you lose a loved one in a car crash, you no doubt have questions about your rights and what comes next. Here are answers to questions we are commonly asked about wrongful death and survival action lawsuits.

1. What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death suit is one that is filed when someone dies due to someone else’s reckless or intentional behavior, or negligence.

2. Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In the state of Washington, the decedent’s personal representative, surviving spouse/domestic partner, or children may file a wrongful death lawsuit. If there is no spouse/domestic partner, or children, then parents and/or siblings may file.

3. What is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit?
In the state of Washington, the statute of limitations for filing is three years. This means you must file the lawsuit within three years or you lose the right to sue.

4. How is a wrongful death lawsuit valued?
The value of a wrongful death suit is dependent upon numerous factors. This includes financial losses, emotional losses, and the type and amount of insurance available to compensate the family for their loss.

5. What is a survival action?
A survival action is when the person does not die immediately due to their injuries and suffers physical or emotional harm while they still live. This is an additional type of action that sometimes accompanies a wrongful death lawsuit.

7. How are wrongful death settlements/verdicts distributed?
As each wrongful death lawsuit is unique, a judge reviews the reasonableness of the settlement, and also how the compensation is distributed.

8. Can I sue for non-economic losses in a wrongful death lawsuit?
Yes. The family members of the victim may sue for the deprivation of the deceased’s love and companionship. If there is a survival action, the family may also sue for the pain and suffering endured by the deceased prior to their death.

9. How do I know if my loved one’s death was due to negligence?
After a car crash, it is important for your attorney to obtain a copy of the police report to determine if the responsible party was on their phone, disobeying traffic laws, or otherwise acting in an irresponsible manner. In addition, your attorney will look at the scene and any other evidence that helps them determine who was responsible for the crash.

10. Why should I obtain the assistance of a personal injury lawyer to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
The loss a family experiences when a loved one passes away is often paralyzing. It is too much to ask for the family to handle a complicated lawsuit on their own. An experienced  personal injury attorney can alleviate the stress of dealing with the insurance companies, gathering evidence, filing suit, and representing you in court.

More Questions?

For more information, please see our other posts on wrongful death.

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