Losing a loved one is extremely painful and difficult to accept. This is especially so when that loss is a direct result of someone else’s negligence. It is essential that you have a Vancouver wrongful death attorney in your corner following the death of a loved one. Under Washington law, a “wrongful death” is caused by another’s:
- wrongful act,
- omission, or
A Vancouver wrongful death attorney can assist you with proving the necessary elements of your case.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death cases are generally more complex than other types of personal injury cases. In a wrongful death case, typically the personal representative of the decedent’s estate brings and files the claim against the person or entity causing the death. Pursuant to RCW 4.20.020, a wrongful death action can be brought on behalf of “the wife, husband, state registered domestic partner, child or children, including stepchildren, of the person whose death shall have been so caused.” Moreover, under the Washington statute, “if there is no wife, husband, state registered domestic partner, or such child or children, such action may be maintained for the benefit of the parents, sisters, or brothers, who may be dependent upon the deceased person for support, and who reside within the United States at the time of death.”
Due to the complexity of wrongful death cases, it is essential that you have an experienced Vancouver wrongful death attorney representing you at every stage of your case.
The Most Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths
- Motor vehicle accidents: Including those involving drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, reckless driving, or negligent driving, and which lead to the death of a loved one. Pedestrian accidents involving motor vehicles (such as at crosswalks and intersections) can also lead to a wrongful death action.
- Workplace accidents: Where the death of an employee is due to an employer’s negligent policies or actions, the surviving family may pursue a wrongful death action against the employer directly and/or against the employer’s insurance company.
- Premises liability: The owner or occupier of premises owes a duty to persons on the land, depending upon their status on the premises (e.g., business invitee, social guest, or trespasser) at the time of the accident. If an accident/death results from a known defect on the premises (or from a failure to warn of or reasonably discover the defect), there may be a basis for a wrongful death action.
- Negligent supervision: Common with nursing home victims who die because they were not properly attended to or supervised by nursing home staff.
- Defective products: Most commonly involves defective play equipment, sports equipment, or car seats.
- Medical malpractice: Occurs when health care providers breach the applicable standard of care for a reasonable provider (e.g., physician, nurse) under the same or similar circumstances; a national standard of care may apply for specialists, such as orthopedists or cardiologists.
- Defective medical devices: Usually occurs when defective or improperly tested medical equipment is sold to customers and a death results.
- Defective drugs: Usually occurs when death is caused by side effects of a drug — or when experimental drugs are not properly tested before being administered to patients.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Wrongful Death Case?
Washington State, like all other jurisdictions in the United States, provides time limitations on legal claims — including wrongful death cases. Statutes of limitation prevent evidence from growing stale and ensure that potential witnesses will be available for trial. Make sure you file wrongful death claim by (or on) the statute of limitations deadline. Otherwise, you will not be able to file a claim later or seek compensation.
Under Washington law, the statute of limitations in a wrongful death case is three years from the date of death. If you believe you have a claim for wrongful death on behalf of a deceased loved one, you should immediately contact an experienced Vancouver wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
Proving a Wrongful Death Case
In Washington, negligence law governs wrongful death cases. More specifically, you must demonstrate that that the defendant breached a duty owed to your loved one. You must prove that this legally and proximately resulted in your loved one’s death. An experienced Vancouver wrongful death attorney can assist you with proving all of the necessary elements of negligence.
Damages for wrongful death cases in Washington State typically consist of both economic and non-economic damages. The most common types of damages sought in wrongful death cases include the following:
- medical costs: including emergency hospital treatment, physical therapy, and other medical expenses leading up to the decedent’s death
- ongoing medical costs: including costs for family therapy following the decedent’s death
- lost income/wages: including the decedent’s lost wages (up to the time of death) and potential future earnings
- pain and suffering: including pain and suffering leading up to the time of the decedent’s death
- funeral expense
Your Vancouver wrongful death attorney will be able to assist you with proving damages. She can also determine which types of damages are applicable to an individual case.
Talk to a Vancouver Wrongful Death Attorney Today
A Vancouver wrongful death attorney can help you following the death of a loved one. She can inform you of your options and work to get you the compensation you and your family deserve. Call Mila Boyd Law Offices today at (360) 433-9361.