We all know that accidents can happen. Yet, when they happen due to negligence, and that negligence leads to the loss of a loved one, it can be hard to cope with the enormity of that type of tragedy. While it is impossible to bring back a loved one, it is possible to use the legal system to seek some measure of justice on their behalf. Negligent parties deserve to be held accountable, and grieving families deserve compensation for their loss.
The Yakima personal injury attorneys of Tamaki Law understand that there is no “right time” to talk about the traumatic loss of a family member. It is an emotionally painful process that can be difficult for survivors. That is why the legal team at Tamaki Law handles all wrongful death cases with sensitivity and compassion. We know you have been through a great deal, and a legal fight seems like a lot to process at this time, but you and your family deserve the financial stability that compensation from the negligent party may be able to help provide.
If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident and negligence is to blame, consider talking with one of our experienced wrongful death lawyers in Yakima. We can review the circumstances of your case and explain the legal process for attempting to recover compensation. Our team is comprised of compassionate listeners who want to help you seek justice and recover the money you are entitled to. For more information on how we may be able to help, contact us today at (509) 248-8338. The initial consultation is free.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Technically, the legal definition of wrongful death in the state of Washington is any fatality that is caused by the wrongful actions or negligence of another person. When this happens, a person may be able to file what is known as a wrongful death lawsuit. Another way of thinking about a wrongful death lawsuit is thinking that it is much like a personal injury lawsuit, which many people are more familiar with.
A personal injury lawsuit may be triggered when someone is hurt by the negligent actions of another person. They can file a lawsuit against the negligent person or company to request compensation for their injuries. A wrongful death suit is similar, only instead of the injured party bringing the suit and being compensated, the deceased person’s beneficiary must file the suit, and any compensation recovered will be going to the victim’s estate.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death lawsuits can be complex because there are such a wide variety of situations and circumstances that may trigger a legal claim to compensation following the death of a loved one. From car accidents to workplace mishaps, anytime that negligence plays a role in a fatal accident, the decedent’s beneficiaries may be able to recover some form of compensation. The most common incidents that end up sparking wrongful death claims tend to include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Workplace accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Medical malpractice cases
- Defective drug and medical device cases
- Defective consumer product cases
- Intentional killing of a person
If negligence or wrongful actions ultimately resulted in the death of someone close to you, consider talking about your situation with an experienced Yakima wrongful death attorney. The legal team at Tamaki Law can review your case and help you sort through your legal options for recovering compensation.
Compensation Available for a Wrongful Death Claim
While it is true that no amount of money can bring back a cherished loved one, compensation for wrongful death can help people recover from the immense and sudden financial instability that can result from the loss of a financially contributing member of the family. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is one way that family members can use the legal system to pursue justice on behalf of their loved ones and recover valuable compensation.
The amount of compensation that may be due to a family depends on the circumstances of the accident that resulted in the death of the victim. If the accident caused life-threatening injuries and the victim ended up in the hospital before death, a family may be able to recover money for those medical expenses. If the victim did not need medical treatment, compensation may be recovered for funeral and burial expenses. In general, the compensation available to grieving family members may cover the following:
- Final medical bills associated with the accident
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of income
- Loss of care or companionship
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
Exactly who files the lawsuit can also have an impact on the amount of compensation that may be due. A spouse or child may be able to recover money for loss of care or companionship, while these damages may not be considered necessary if a representative filing on behalf of the victim’s estate is filing the suit.
To make a valid assessment of the value of a wrongful death claim, it is important to consult with an experienced Yakima wrongful death attorney. A seasoned attorney will be able to review the circumstances of the case and assign value to the claim based upon the facts, evidence, and relationship status of the individual filing the suit.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Yakima?
A wrongful death lawsuit cannot be filed by just anyone. The state of Washington identifies and strictly enforces who is allowed to pursue a suit on behalf of the deceased. The first in line to file a wrongful death suit is always the surviving spouse or the children of the victim. Washington also gives state-registered domestic partners and stepchildren the ability to pursue a wrongful death action on behalf of their deceased loved one.
In the event that the victim did not have a spouse, state-recognized partner, or children, parents and siblings may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A suit may also be filed by the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate.
If the victim happens to be a minor under the age of 18 at the time of death, the state also lays out specific rules for who may file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. Washington stipulates that any parent of the minor who files a wrongful death suit must have regularly contributed to supporting the child in order to be eligible to file a suit. This law attempts to prevent absent parents from filing a suit on behalf of a child that they were not involved in raising. Married parents may file a suit jointly. For parents who are not married, are separated, or are legally divorced, either parent may file the suit, but the other parent must be notified of the action within twenty days. This gives the other parent the ability to join the lawsuit as it moves forward if they choose to do so.
Don’t Wait to Consult an Attorney
Grief has no time limit, but legal proceedings do. Although it may be painful to cope with the sudden loss of a loved one, the law only gives grieving individuals a certain amount of time to file a wrongful death suit. There is a three-year statute of limitations on all wrongful death claims in Washington. The clock begins on the date of the individual’s death. This means that if a claim is not filed within this three-year time frame, the survivor’s chances of recovering compensation for the accident become very slim. Cases filed after the three-year time limit are generally thrown out and will not be heard. After that, there is very little recourse for a family trying to recover compensation.
Although talking to an attorney about your loved one’s accident is the last thing you want to do right now, it is an important step to take. Your family member deserves justice, and the negligent party deserves to be held accountable for their actions. The compassionate team with Tamaki Law understands what a painful time this is and will help you move through the legal process with sensitivity.
Contact an Experienced Yakima Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing a valued member of the family is difficult enough. Don’t risk losing your financial stability as well. When negligence results in a fatal accident, the party responsible needs to be held accountable. Part of that accountability is compensating the victim’s family for their loss: the loss of a breadwinner, the loss of a companion, the loss of someone that cannot be replaced.
Before you talk to anyone else, find out more about your rights and what the legal team at Tamaki Law can do to help you protect them. We will handle your case with the respect and dignity it deserves, guiding you with compassion through the legal process. For more information on how we may be able to help you and your family, contact us today by calling (509) 248-8338. The initial consultation is free, and we don’t get paid until we obtain compensation for you.