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How Your Attorney Values a Wrongful Death Case

Life is precious and priceless. It is not really possible to put a dollar value on a human life. However, the only way our legal system can compensate us when we lose a loved one is financially. And so, if someone is killed in a car crash due to the reckless or careless behavior of another person, all we can do is try to set a financial value to provide some form of compensation for that terrible loss.

Who Can Sue in a Seattle Wrongful Death Case?

To begin with, we first need to determine whether the family members who lost a loved one are legally allowed to sue under the law. In Washington State, there are groups of people who can sue based on their familial relationship. Those people are:

  • Spouses and Domestic Partners
  • Children

If there is no spouse/domestic partner or child, then the next family members who have the legal right to sue are:

  • Parents
  • Siblings

The Value of the Case

It is perhaps better to ask how Seattle wrongful death lawyers value a case as opposed to how we value a life. There is no way to truly value the loss of a loved one. However, the law allows for those who are eligible to recover for both financial and emotional losses that occur when a close family member dies.


In valuing your case, your attorney will look at various types of damages. These include:

  • Lost Earnings – The amount of money the deceased would have likely earned, over their lifetime.
  • Medical Expenses – Any costs related to medical care of the victim due to the crash.
  • Physical Damage to Property – This includes the victim’s car, property in the car, and any other physical property that was damaged.
  • Funeral and Burial Expenses – Even a simple burial can be expensive, and these damages are recoverable
  • Loss of Consortium – Family members and loved ones can suffer non-economic loss, which is the emotional pain and suffering of no longer having their loved one with them.

Additional Factors

In addition to the types of damages potentially available to you and your family, your attorney will look at several factors to help reach a potential value for your case. These include:

Negligent party’s insurance – In car crashes, normally it is the insurance companies that pay any settlements or verdicts. Your lawyer will first look at how much insurance the driver who caused the accident had. Then your lawyer will look and see if your loved one had Underinsured motorist insurance. Underinsured motorist pays out on top of the other person’s insurance. If the responsible driver has substantial assets, it is also possible to go after those assets for compensation, if the insurance is not enough.

Age of victim – One’s age and where they are in their career has a big role in the value of a case. Someone who is very young had many years to live, but they may not have much in the way of lost earnings. Someone who is older may not have long to live, but if they had a high salary, their lost income potential can be very high.

Circumstances of death – if the victim survived for any period, even moments, their pain and suffering is relevant to calculating the value of the case. However, that is a different type of case called a survival action. If a loved one was present at the time of the accident and unfortunately saw their loved one’s death, that plays a role in the value of the case as well.

Contact Us for Assistance

The pain suffered due to the death of a loved one in a car crash is incomprehensible. In most cases, surviving family members find themselves unable to think of what to do next. This is why it is so important to contact an experienced Seattle personal injury attorney. Once you reach out to us, we can guide you through the next steps. This includes managing the case, setting the case’s value, seeking just compensation for your loss.

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