What Is a Wrongful Death Case?
The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to hold a defendant who caused the death of another liable for their actions and the death, and seek damages as such. As found in the Revised Code of Washington section 4.20.010, a person maintains the right of action to bring forth a claim for wrongful death when the death of the person is caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default or another.” The statute continues to read that when the above condition is satisfied, the decedent’s personal representative may maintain an action for damages against the defendant. While the law reads that the personal representative is the party who can bring forth the action, section 4.20.020 of RCW states that the action may be maintained for the benefit of a:
- Registered domestic partner;
- Parents, brothers, or sisters who were dependent upon the deceased person for support if there are no children, stepchildren, registered domestic partner, or spouse of the decedent.
A successful wrongful death claim is one that proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the death of the decedent would not have occurred but for the wrongful or neglectful actions of the deceased, and that the decedent’s estate/beneficiaries have suffered harm as a result. The elements of a wrongful death claim are duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. If each element is not established with evidence, a case will not be successful. For this reason, an experienced wrongful death lawyer will be your best ally.
Damages Recoverable in a Vancouver Wrongful Death Case
- Costs of hospital and medical bills related to the injury prior to death;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Lost income that the deceased would have recovered but for death and loss of earning capacity;
- Any property damage costs incurred by the deceased’s estate (such as the value of a car totaled in a fatal car accident);
- Damages for the pain and suffering of the deceased (but not of the plaintiff or beneficiaries); and
- The value of loss of care, companionship, parental guidance, consortium, etc. suffered by the spouse, children, or other families members of the decedent.
Why You Should Work with Our Vancouver Wrongful Death Attorneys
Filing a wrongful death claim is a complex legal process that requires knowledge of things such as how to file a claim, terms like negligence and liability, against whom to file a claim, how to gather and present evidence, how to valuate and negotiate a settlement, and how to file a lawsuit if a case cannot be resolved outside of court. But in addition to the legal elements of a claim, there is no doubt that filing a wrongful death action is also a very emotional process, and something that can be very difficult to do on one’s own.
At the law offices of Johnston Law Firm, P.C., our Vancouver personal injury attorneys understand the feelings of devastation and anger that you are likely experiencing, and that you probably have many questions about the process, your rights, and what comes next. Our experienced team is here to provide you with the support and guidance you need. We will do everything possible to lift the load from your shoulders and help you recover.
To schedule a complimentary wrongful death case evaluation with the Johnston Law Firm, you may reach us by phone at (503) 546-3167
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We’re conveniently located in downtown Portland, and we offer flexible hours by appointment.