Nothing is more difficult than losing a close loved one in an accident. It is even more challenging when you find out that they could have prevented the proper safety precautions. Washington’s wrongful death law (RCW 4.20.010) allows grieving family members to hold the at-fault party liable for a fatal accident “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person.”
However, not every loved one of the victim has the right to file a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death action must be initiated in the proper manner. Further, it will only be for the benefit of certain eligible parties. In this article, our Spokane wrongful death lawyer explains the most important things to understand about wrongful death claims eligibility in Washington.
Wrongful Deaths Suits in Washington are Filed By the ‘Personal Representative’ of the Estate
Wrongful death claims generally fall under state law. In some jurisdictions, eligible family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit directly against the at-fault party. However, that is not how the process works in Washington. In our state, a wrongful death claim must be initiated by the personal representative of the deceased victim.
When a person passes away with a valid will, the personal representative is generally the executor as named in that will. When a person passes away without a will in Washington, an estate administrator will generally need to be appointed in the probate process. The estate administrator will serve as the personal representative for the wrongful death claim.
Wrongful Death Compensation is for the Benefit of the Closest Surviving Family Members
The personal representative pursues the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the closest surviving family members. When a person passes away with a spouse and/or children, the wrongful death lawsuit is filed on their behalf. If a person has no spouse or children, then the wrongful death claim is pursued on behalf of their parents and siblings. If you have specific questions about wrongful death eligibility in Washington State, our Spokane wrongful death attorneys can help.
A Three-Year Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Actions in Washington
There is a three-year statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits in Washington. Any wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the date that someone passed away. Once the statute of limitations runs out, you and your family will generally not be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Do not wait to get started with your case: Get help from a Spokane wrongful death lawyer.
Speak to a Spokane, WA Wrongful Death Attorney Today
At Albrecht Law PLLC, our Spokane wrongful death lawyers are compassionate and experienced advocates for surviving family members. If you have any questions about wrongful death eligibility in Washington, we are here to help. Call us now or send us a message online to set up a free, strictly confidential consultation. From our Spokane law office, we fight for the legal rights and financial interests of grieving families in wrongful death claims throughout Eastern Washington.