Compassionate Olympia Wrongful Death Attorneys Ready To Fight For You
Sometimes, the world seems like it is boobytrapped. In a way, it is. And Olympia, Washington, on Puget Sound, is just as vulnerable as anywhere else is. Interstate 5, however, is not necessarily the most dangerous place in Olympia, even if it is the place where the danger is most obvious. Some would argue, not without statistical support, that some hospitals and pharmacies are just as dangerous.
Wrongful Death in Washington State
Wrongful death is a sensitive but important area of the law. According to R.C.W. 4.20.010, “When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person, his or her personal representative may maintain an action against the person causing the death for the economic and non-economic damages sustained by the beneficiaries listed in RCW 4.20.020 as a result of the decedent’s death, in such amounts as determined by a trier of fact to be just under all the circumstances of the case.” To put it more simply, in Washington, you may be entitled to recover damages as part of a wrongful death action if your loved one’s death was caused by another’s harmful actions.
Wrongful death cases can take many forms. They can result from a car accident, a criminal act, a negligent act, and the list goes on. Oftentimes, if a wrongful death suit has stemmed from a negligent act, it can be hard to prove that the negligent act caused the death of the person. A negligent act is simply defined as a failure for one person to exercise a level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the same or similar circumstances. A good example of wrongful death caused by a negligent act could be that a boat captain failed to properly anchor his boat, so when a passenger went to disembark, they fell in and drowned. While the liability of that situation seems fairly clear, it must be proven to the “trier of fact,” pursuant to R.C.W. 4.20.010 (above), which means you must prove your case to a judge or jury.
We are skilled in taking the circumstances of a wrongful death action and proving each element fully and completely to a trier of fact, and it can be difficult to prove this on your own.
Wrongful Death Claims
When one person’s misconduct causes the death of another person, a wrongful death claim arises under Washington law. Under Washington’s wrongful death statute, this type of claim can be filed by:
- the personal representative of the deceased victim’s probate estate (in a “survival action” for certain types of damages only); and
- a surviving spouse, registered domestic partner, child, or stepchild.
If none of the above-mentioned relatives exist or survive the death of the victim (as in the case of a child victim), the victim’s parents or siblings may file a wrongful death claim. In the case of the death of a minor child, a parent can file a claim only if he or she can demonstrate “significant involvement” in the child’s life at any time reasonably near the date of the accident or the date of death.
Wrongful death damages can include:
- The victim’s medical bills (typically paid to the probate estate);
- Funeral and burial expenses (typically paid to the probate estate);
- Lost income;
- The victim’s pain and suffering;
- Compensation for property damage; and
- Intangible losses suffered by the relatives who filed the claim (grief, loss of emotional support, etc.).
Our Client Says…
“Best attorneys around. Extremely personable and knowledgeable especially in complicated cases! They work hard for you and keep you informed on what’s happening! I would refer people here in a heartbeat!” — Tara Pavone
Other Types of Personal Injury Claims We Handle
We handle just about every type of personal injury claim, including auto accidents, motor vehicle accidents, semi-truck accidents, medical negligence and malpractice, and wrongful death.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can an unmarried father file a wrongful death claim over the death of a minor child?
Under Washington’s wrongful death law, a parent seeking to file a wrongful death claim need not be married to the other parent, either at the time the lawsuit is filed or at any previous time. In some cases, however, a putative father may be required to establish paternity (although an adoptive father enjoys the same rights as a biological father). The father must serve the mother with a copy of the wrongful death complaint.
Can I file a claim against a doctor for wrongful death?
Yes, you can, as long as you can make a credible claim that the doctor’s medical malpractice caused the death. You may need expert medical testimony to establish this.
Can I file a claim against a product manufacturer for wrongful death?
Yes, you can, as long as certain conditions are met. In many cases, you do not even have to prove that the manufacturer was at fault to win. You will need to prove that the product in question was unreasonably dangerous as the result of:
- A design defect;
- A manufacturing defect; or
- Inadequate product warnings.
Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit while the defendant is being prosecuted for manslaughter in criminal court?
Yes, you can, because a civil lawsuit is a separate proceeding from criminal prosecution. It is even possible to win a civil lawsuit if the defendant is acquitted of the criminal charge against him.
Our Services Are Free unless We Win
At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC, we offer something better than a “money-back guarantee.” You won’t owe us anything at all until your case is over, you have won, and the money is in the bank. And if our proven Olympia wrongful death attorneys don’t win (a relatively rare occurrence), you don’t pay us at all.
When it comes to a wrongful death claim, time matters – even if the statute of limitations deadline is years away. Your best chance of winning your claim comes when you retain an experienced and aggressive law firm to conduct a thorough investigation while the evidence is still fresh. Call our winning Olympia wrongful death lawyers today or fill out our online contact form so that we can schedule a meeting to answer your questions.