Spokane is a wonderful and safe place to call home. Compared to the rest of the country, the people of Spokane enjoy a crime rate that is lower than average. But deaths happen here as much as anywhere else. And when a loved one has died due to the wrongful actions of another, you may find yourself in need of an experienced Spokane wrongful death lawyer.
What Exactly Is “Wrongful Death”?
Wrongful Death is a term that is applied when someone is killed due to the negligence or wrongful act(s) of another. It is a civil cause of action that is similar to a personal injury lawsuit, with the big difference being that the victim has died. So you can think of it this way:
- If you are injured due to someone else’s negligence (like in a car accident), then you have a cause of action for personal injury lawsuit.
- If you die as a result of that same negligence, you are no longer there to serve as the plaintiff for a personal injury suit. So the law gives your loved ones the opportunity to recover damages for you – or in your stead.
It is not exactly as described above, but pretty close – so it’s a helpful way to think about it. Wrongful death actions can arise from a very wide variety of circumstances – from a simple car accident, to extremely complex medical malpractice or product liability cases. Defendants in such claims can be a single person like a doctor, to a few people, to large corporations, to a combination of entities.
For instance, if someone died in a DUI accident but it was determined that the driver, who was under the influence, had a car with a critical manufacturing defect that contributed to the accident, then potential defendants could be:
- The intoxicated driver
- The company he or she works for if they were working when the accident occurred
- The car manufacturer who knew of, or should have known of, the defect
- The manufacturer of the defective part or system – if different than the car manufacturer
That is just an example to give you an idea of how defendants can be singled out or combined in a wrongful death case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The following people can file a wrongful death claim in Washington:
- An appointed personal representative of the decedent’s estate,
- The spouse or registered domestic partner of the decedent, or
- Any children of the decedent.
If the decedent had none of the above, then the claim can be filed by:
- The decedent’s parents, or
- Any surviving siblings.
Basically, any close family member can bring suit for wrongful death.
What Is the Purpose of a Wrongful Death Suit?
So what exactly is the purpose of such a suit? After all, the decedent cannot benefit from such an action. So why should anyone else be able to collect damages for an incident that actually happened to someone else?
The idea behind allowing such persons to file suit stems from the reality that it is not only the decedent who suffered from the defendant’s wrongful acts. If the decedent died quickly, they may or may not have suffered for long – but those who are left behind will be suffering this loss for the rest of their lives. They will likely feel it every day on an emotional as well as physical and financial level. For instance, if it is the bread-winner of a family that has died, the entire family is now in grave financial jeopardy.
Or worse yet, if the victim suffered through a long battle to stay alive, the family may be in even more dire financial straits. Now they have to try to deal with the emotional loss while being inundated with medical bills that may run well into six digits.
The purpose of a wrongful death suit is to enable those who are left behind to begin to pick up the pieces of their lives after a tragedy that was caused by the wrongful acts of another. The family left behind has to restructure and find a new way to survive, and recovering damages can be a critical first step.
Contact Us Today
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or think that this may be the case but are uncertain, it would be in your best interest to speak to a lawyer at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC, as soon as possible. It costs you nothing to speak with us, and we can help you determine if you have a case that is actionable. So call us today or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, confidential case consultation.