Washington State Wrongful Death Attorneys
When someone is injured through the careless act of another, a personal injury lawsuit can be filed to compensate the victim for his or her injuries. But, what happens when the victim dies in the accident? Does the claim die with him or her? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding “no.” Washington’s wrongful death law allows for the filing of a lawsuit seeking compensation for the victim’s estate and for the losses suffered by grieving relatives.
The sudden death of a loved one can throw your life into absolute chaos. The emotional pain is multiplied when you discover that your loved one wouldn’t have had to die but for the inexcusable carelessness of a drunken driver, an overworked doctor, or a corner-cutting product manufacturer. It always pains us to see our clients, in such distress already, now try to deal with overdue medical bills, funeral expenses, and the sudden loss of income that the victim may have provided the family – all while trying to hold up under some of the most brutal stress that anyone can be asked to endure.
The assistance of an experienced personal injury law firm can be invaluable during such trying times. At Brett McCandlis Brown, we don’t look at our clients as case numbers – we see them as individual human beings doing their best to remain standing while their circumstances are trying to force them to their knees. We address more than just traditional legal issues – we will do our best to see to it that you receive top-quality medical care and that you are able to pay your bills on time even while your case is still pending.
We understand that you may be suffering financial difficulties – which is why we won’t charge you a dime unless we win your case. Since we don’t get paid until and unless you get paid, you will not have to pay us any upfront fees. Our 97 percent client success allows us the confidence to make guarantees like this.
We Get Results
Our client success rate is more than just a number to us – it represents real people, people like:
- Landen Harless, a 14-year-old boy struck and killed by a tow truck. We negotiated a $1 million settlement from the towing company for negligently hiring a tow truck driver with a long criminal record, even though the defendant was acquitted in criminal court.
- Four people tragically killed in a mudslide. We won a $2.3 million jury verdict against the state government for these deaths because the jury found the state liable for failing to inspect abandoned logging roads.
Please see our case results page for many more similar examples.
Our Practice Areas
- Car accidents: The state of Washington records nearly 500 road accident deaths every year. Since the legalization of marijuana, nearly 20 percent of these involved marijuana use. Even non-fatal accidents often carry lifelong consequences for injured victims, which makes it particularly important to accurately project long-term medical expenses when asserting a claim.
- Drunken driving accidents: Unfortunately, prosecuting a drunk driver in criminal court for injuring you or killing your loved one in a vehicle accident won’t necessarily secure you a dime in compensation. It is still possible, however, to sue the intoxicated driver, and it is possible to win regardless of the outcome in criminal court.
- Wrongful death: A wrongful death claim can arise from any accident that is caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional misconduct. Grieving relatives can recover damages not only for the victim’s loss, but also for their own losses and emotional suffering.
- Bicycle accidents: Bicycling accidents often occur because of the relative invisibility of a bicycle, especially to a motorist who has not learned to watch out for them. When an accident happens, injuries are more likely to be catastrophic or even fatal.
- Motorcycle accidents: Your mother was right – motorcycles are dangerous. Not only does a motorcycle fit neatly into a motorist’s blind spot, but motorists themselves are not watching out for motorcycles. Accidents tend to be severe even when the rider is wearing a helmet, and fatalities are common.
- Head and brain injuries: Head and brain injuries can occur as a consequence of a wide variety of different accidents. Moreover, some types of brain injuries are difficult to detect for weeks or even months after an accident. Consequences can include paralysis, dementia, personality changes, seizures, memory loss, and other serious impairments.
- Trucking accidents: A commercial truck can crumple a sedan like an accordion or launch a motorcycle like a projectile. Trucks accidents often occur when a truck driver violates a state or federal trucking safety regulation, and violation of such a regulation can be used to support liability if it caused the accident.
- Defective drugs: Defects in drugs such as Paxil and Ritalin injure thousands of people every year. In many cases, a patient will be injured by a drug that is safe to use for some purposes, but not for others. In cases like this, a product liability claim against the manufacturer or distributor or a medical malpractice claim against the prescribing physician might be appropriate.
- Other types of accidents and injuries including distracted driving, boating accidents, aircraft accidents, medical malpractice, pedestrian accidents, product liability, railroad accidents, RV accidents, slip and fall accidents, back and spinal cord injuries, burn injuries, fractures/broken bones, internal injuries, and neck injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by (i) the personal representative of the victim’s estate, or (ii) an eligible relative. Eligible relatives include the victim’s:
- spouse or registered domestic partner
- children or stepchildren
- parents or siblings, if the victim has no surviving relatives in categories 1) or 2) and if they were financially dependent on the victim.
Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit during the defendant’s criminal trial?
Yes, you can. The two proceedings are independent of each other, and you can sometimes win a wrongful death lawsuit even if the defendant is acquitted in criminal court.
How much money will I be entitled to?
In general, you are entitled to compensation for:
- The victim’s medical bills (if you paid them)
- The victim’s funeral and burial expenses (if you paid them)
- Compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering
- The victim’s lost earnings
- Loss of property
- Loss of intangible benefits, such as care and companionship
How do I prove the defendant was at fault?
To prove the defendant was at fault, you must show that the defendant owed a duty to the victim, that he or she breached that duty, and that this breach actually caused the victim’s death. A drunk driver, for example, may have breached his or her duty to drive safely.
How should I proceed if my child was killed?
If your child under 18 is killed, you are entitled to compensation only if you regularly contribute to the support of the child (including child-raising services). Although your marital status is irrelevant, if you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must notify the other parent within 20 days.
Does it matter if the accident was partly the victim’s fault?
Yes, it does, although fault will not completely bar the recovery of compensation as long as the defendant was also at fault. Under Washington’s comparative fault rules, each party’s damages are reduced by his or her own percentage of fault and the other party pays the remainder. If the victim was 30 percent at fault, for example, the defendant must pay 70 percent of the plaintiff’s total damages.
How is the money distributed?
Economic damages such as funeral and burial expenses will be awarded to the party that paid them (typically the victim’s probate estate, for distribution among heirs). Damages for intangible losses such as pain and suffering and loss of care and companionship will be divided (perhaps unequally) among the eligible relatives.
The Sooner You Act, the Better
Time is of the essence when pursuing a wrongful death claim. While many claims are resolved with relative speed, some are complex and require a level of preparation that is far too extensive for a plaintiff or a sole practitioner law firm to effectively handle. Moreover, as time passes, evidence grows stale, witnesses’ memories fade, and momentum is lost. For all of these reasons, it is best to involve a dedicated personal injury law firm as early as possible in your case.
After securing over $100 million in verdicts and settlements for thousands of satisfied clients, we are certain that we can provide you with the very best chance to secure the justice that you so richly deserve. Most of our clients’ claims are resolved through private settlement, and we will attempt to settle your case as quickly as possible. If the defendant is too stubborn to offer a fair settlement, however, we will not hesitate to take the matter to court for you.
At Brett McCandlis Brown, securing full and fair compensation for our clients’ losses – both tangible and intangible – is what we do every day. Not many law firms in Washington have helped as many clients, settled as many claims, or won as many verdicts as Brett McCandlis Brown has. If your loved one has been killed in an accident that you believe may have been someone else’s fault, call us today at 1-800-925-1875 or fill out our online contact form so that we can schedule your free case evaluation.