An Experienced Washington Wrongful Death Attorney Explains How to Seek Compensation from a Wrongful Death Claim
September 1, 2023 – Matt Albrecht
Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences that anyone can go through. This loss can be even more devastating when it happens due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing.
Imagine scheduling a lunch with a loved one, only to lose them in an accident caused by a drunk driver the next day. In such cases, it may be possible to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for damages with the help of a wrongful death attorney.
At Albrecht Law, we understand while no action can truly mend the heartbreak of your loss, our wrongful death attorneys stand ready to assist you in seeking closure and financial compensation by initiating a wrongful death claim against those responsible for your loved one’s death.
The Emotional Journey: Beyond Legalities and Paperwork
Coping with Grief While Navigating Legal Procedures
The loss of a loved one due to another’s negligence is an overwhelming emotion, and facing the prospect of legal action while grappling with grief can be daunting. Many families often feel the pressure of timelines and formalities, which can seem in stark contrast to their need for mourning and reflection.
It’s okay to seek legal counsel and allow a wrongful death attorney to handle the complexities while you give yourself the space to grieve.
Overcoming Guilt and Doubt: Am I Doing the Right Thing?
It’s natural to have reservations. You might wonder if pursuing a lawsuit dishonors your loved one’s memory.
Remember, a wrongful death claim isn’t just about compensation; it’s about holding those responsible accountable, preventing similar instances in the future, and finding a sense of closure.
Seeking Therapy and Support Groups: It’s Okay to Ask for Help
While an attorney can guide you through the legal maze, emotional healing is a separate journey.
Therapists and support groups can be invaluable, especially those tailored for grieving families. They offer a space to voice your pain, understand your emotions, and learn coping mechanisms.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?
At its core, wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to another individual or entity’s negligence or intentional act. This can range from car accidents to medical malpractice and even intentional acts like assault.
For many families, a wrongful death lawsuit is a means to hold the responsible party accountable and recover financial compensation for their loss.
The Key Players in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
There are two sides to a wrongful death lawsuit: the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiff is typically the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate who files the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members.
The defendant, on the other hand, is the person or entity alleged to be responsible for the death. Working with an experienced wrongful death attorney is crucial to ensure all legal procedures are followed and your claim is represented effectively.
Seeking Compensation: What’s Covered?
When you file a wrongful death claim, you can seek financial compensation for various damages. Damages that can be recovered include:
- Medical expenses incurred before death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the deceased’s income
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Other intangible losses that the decedent would have provided to the beneficiaries
The ultimate goal is to alleviate some of the financial burdens placed on the deceased person’s family and hold the defendant accountable for their actions.
Statute of Limitations: Timing is Everything
Each state, including Washington, has its own wrongful death statute that dictates the time frame within which a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. In Washington, you have three years from the date of the deceased’s death to file your claim.
If you fail to file within this period, you might lose your right to pursue compensation, regardless of your case’s merits. Always consult a wrongful death attorney to ensure you’re within your rights to file a claim.
Establishing Fault in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The very foundation of a wrongful death lawsuit revolves around determining fault. Without proving negligence or intentional wrongdoing on the defendant’s part, the chances of a successful wrongful death lawsuit diminish.
Negligence, in simple terms, means a failure to exercise the expected duty of care. For instance, if a driver is texting and driving and causes a fatal accident, this would typically be considered negligence. When proving negligence, you must demonstrate the following:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person
- The defendant breached their duty of care
- The breach of the duty of care resulted in the death of the victim
- The victim’s loved ones suffered damages as a result of their death
While many wrongful death claims stem from negligence, some arise from intentional acts. These could range from deliberate attacks, like assault, to cases where someone intentionally harms another, leading to their death. In such scenarios, criminal charges might also be filed against the defendant.
How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
Thorough Case Evaluation
A wrongful death attorney can provide an exhaustive assessment of your case, helping you understand its strengths and potential challenges.
An attorney fortifies your claim by gathering crucial evidence, including medical records, eyewitness accounts, and expert testimonies.
An experienced attorney possesses the skills to negotiate fiercely with insurance companies and opposing counsel, aiming to secure the best possible settlement.
Should your case proceed to trial, a wrongful death attorney will advocate zealously on your behalf, presenting your case in the most compelling manner.
Quantification of Damages
Beyond immediate expenses, an attorney can help calculate intangible losses, like pain and suffering or loss of companionship, ensuring you seek comprehensive compensation.
Engaging an experienced wrongful death attorney not only elevates the chances of obtaining justice for your loved one but also ensures that you’re supported and guided at every challenging step of the legal journey.
Practical Considerations for Families: Beyond the Lawsuit
Financial Planning in the Wake of Loss
A sudden loss can also bring unforeseen financial challenges. This extends beyond legal fees or funeral expenses. Consider consulting a financial planner to understand any implications related to estates, assets, and future planning.
Preserving Memories: Honoring Your Loved One’s Legacy
Even as you tread the legal path, it’s essential to remember the life that was. Memorializing your loved one through community service, personal gestures, or creating lasting memorials can be a healing endeavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can wrongful death claims be filed for unborn children?
A: In Washington State, the law is nuanced. Generally, if the fetus was viable outside the womb, a wrongful death claim might be possible. However, legal interpretations can vary. It’s crucial to consult with an attorney for clarity.
Q: Are punitive damages available in wrongful death cases?
A: Washington State typically does not award punitive damages in wrongful death cases. Compensation is usually limited to actual economic and non-economic losses.
Q: If the deceased had a will, does it affect the wrongful death claim?
A: A will typically addresses the distribution of assets, not the distribution of a wrongful death settlement. However, the named executor in the will often leads the lawsuit on behalf of the estate.
Q: Can I file a claim if the deceased was partially at fault?
A: Yes, but compensation may be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the deceased under Washington’s pure comparative fault law.
Q: Is there a difference between wrongful death and homicide?
A: Yes. While both relate to the death of an individual, homicide is a criminal charge, and its proceedings aim to penalize the offender. Wrongful death, on the other hand, is a civil action that seeks compensation for survivors or the estate of the deceased due to someone’s negligence or misconduct.
Albrecht Law Stands Beside You in Your Time of Need
Losing a loved one is painful at any time, but when another’s negligence causes their loss, the grief is compounded by a need for justice. At Albrecht Law, we recognize the depth of your pain and the courage it takes to seek justice for your loved one during such a difficult time.
Our promise is simple: Compassionate counsel when you need it most. We limit our caseload so we’re available to get to know and support you during this challenging time. Our approach is personal.
You’re not just another case but a valued member of our Albrecht Law family. A family that stands by your side, fiercely advocating for justice while understanding the depths of your pain.
If you’ve been searching online for a “wrongful death attorney near me,” contact Albrecht Law instead by calling (509) 495-1246 to speak with a member of our team. You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers. Let us shoulder the legal complexities so you can focus on healing and honoring your loved one.
We serve clients throughout Eastern Washington, including Grant County, Adams County, and Spokane County. Our offices in Spokane and Moses Lake allow convenient access throughout Central and Eastern Washington.
Copyright © 2023. Albrecht Law PLLC. All rights reserved.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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