Wrongful Death

A wrongful-death claim is a claim that arises from the death of an individual that was caused by the conduct of another. A wrongful-death claim is different from other types of personal injury claims because the actual victim (the “decedent”) is not bringing the suit; rather, it is the family members or the decedent’s estate. As such, a wrongful-death claim is brought to recover damages for the injuries that the surviving family and/or estate have suffered because of the death of the victim. The purpose of a wrongful-death suit is to provide relief to family members who have been injured emotionally and financially as a result of the family member’s death. Damages for pain and suffering and mental distress of the decedent before death may also be available to certain qualified beneficiaries. 

To file a wrongful-death suit in Washington, you must show that: 

  • The death of a person was caused by a wrongful act, neglect or defect.
  • The act, neglect or defect would have entitled the injured person to file an action to recover damages had the death not occurred.
  • There are surviving beneficiaries, children or dependents of the victim.
  • Damages have resulted from the decedent’s death

Washington law makes a distinction between persons who can file a wrongful-death suit and persons who are beneficiaries. Only certain individuals can file wrongful-death claims, and those who are allowed to, do so on behalf of others. In Washington, a personal representative of the deceased person may file a suit on behalf of the surviving spouse, children, siblings or parents. A personal representative is a person appointed by the Court to represent the beneficiaries. Family members of the decedent do not have the right to bring the lawsuit unless they have been named as a person representative of the decedent. 

In all matters involving wrongful death, it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, to investigate the accident in question, and to file a lawsuit prior to the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations. If a loved one has been a victim of a wrongful death, call the Law Office of Charles J. Brocato at 253-851-9164 or e-mail.