What rights do I have after the death of a loved one?
The sudden and unexpected death of a loved one is devastating. These tragedies most often occur in a car wreck or in a construction site incident.
While the family is in mourning and picking up the pieces, the last thing on their mind is the legal case. And rightfully so. However, immediately following the tragedy is a crucial time for evidence. This is where a wrongful death lawyer can do a lot of good.
We conduct a thorough investigation. We gather and preserve evidence and witness testimony. And most importantly, we find an answer to why this tragedy happened and help the family bring closure.
Who May Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another, the deceased’s personal representative may maintain an action for damages against the person or company causing the death.
Washington State has specific laws governing who can bring a wrongful death case. You can review the actual laws here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=4.20
In Washington, only people related to the deceased may bring a claim against the person or company that caused the death. The Law refers to these relatives as “Beneficiaries.”
Here is what the law says: Every such action shall be for the benefit of the wife, husband, state registered domestic partner, child or children, including stepchildren, of the person whose death shall have been so caused.
If there be 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 are resident within the United States at the time of his or her death.
What damages can be recovered?
People and companies who violate rules that result in another’s death must be held accountable for what they unnaturally took from the family. In a wrongful death case, the jury may give such damages as, under all circumstances of the case, may to them seem just.
A wrongful death lawyer will help determine the amount of money which will reasonably and fairly compensate the beneficiaries for any economic loss to them, including money, goods and services the decedent would have contributed to them had the decedent lived.
There will also be a money recovery for what the decedent would have been expected to contribute to the beneficiaries in the way of support, love, affection, care, services, companionship, society and consortium.
In making your determinations, we will take into account the decedent's age, health, life expectancy, occupation and habits. We will factor the decedent's earning capacity, including the decedent's actual earnings prior to death and the earnings which might have been reasonably expected to be earned by the decedent in the future.
Contact Banks Law Office for a free consultation to learn more about Washington's wrongful death laws and your legal rights.