Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
April 10, 2023
Losing a loved one unexpectedly can be an overwhelming and heartbreaking experience. Under Washington State law, the surviving loved ones of the deceased person may be able to pursue financial compensation for their loss through a wrongful death action. However, there are specific persons who are legally eligible to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit in Washington State on behalf of other surviving family members.
At The Law Office of Dan N. Fiorito III, I give experienced legal guidance and compassionate representation to clients in their wrongful death cases. As a knowledgeable Washington State personal injury attorney, I can evaluate every aspect of your circumstances, inform you about your eligibility to file a wrongful death claim, and help you pursue your rightful financial compensation for your loss.
My firm proudly serves clients in Seattle, Washington, and surrounding areas across all of Western Washington, including the Puget Sound Area, Everett, Tacoma, and Bellevue.
Wrongful Death vs. Personal Injury Lawsuits
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit or legal action filed by a person or family against someone whose negligent, careless, or wrongful action causes another person's death. Conversely, a personal injury lawsuit is a civil action filed in order to seek financial compensation for injuries and damages suffered due to someone else's negligent, reckless, or wrongful acts.
People Who Can File a Wrongful Death Acton
Additionally, there are two major systems used to determine who can file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. These include:
The Lord Campbell System
The Lord Campbell System is a statute that outlines the guidelines for seeking wrongful death benefits and the remedies available. According to Lord Campbell's Act, only designated beneficiaries are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Based on the person's relationship to the decedent, designated beneficiaries may include the surviving spouse or children of the deceased person or parents of a deceased child.
The Loss-to-Estate System
Conversely, under the loss-to-estate system, a personal representative of the deceased person's estate may file a wrongful death claim in order to seek compensation for the loss. Generally, any amount recovered through the wrongful death claim will be put into a special trust or distributed to the estate's designated beneficiaries.
When a person dies, it is important to determine the designated beneficiaries of the estate and the system used by the state before filing a wrongful death claim. An experienced attorney can educate you about your available legal options and determine the best way to proceed.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Washington?
Furthermore, some states' laws allow the surviving family members of the deceased person to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, according to Washington law, the personal representative or the executor of the decedent's estate may file a wrongful death claim.
If there is no will, the court may appoint an executor. Also, if the victim was a minor, the parent or legal guardian may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit – provided that they contributed to the child's support regularly.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Washington State must be filed within three (3) years of the person's death. This means that the wrongful death action must be filed within three years from the date the person died. A dependable Washington State wrongful death attorney can enlighten you about the legal process involved and ensure that you file your claims as soon as possible.
Understand Your Rights
The death of a family member can be emotional, especially if it was caused by another person's wrongful actions. Such an unexpected loss can affect your financial and mental health. Nonetheless, you don't have to suffer the challenges and financial liability alone. A strong personal injury attorney can help protect your legal rights and help recover fair financial compensation for your loss.
At The Law Office of Dan N. Fiorito III, I have devoted my career to advocating for the best interests of the surviving family members of wrongful death victims. Using my broad knowledge, I can walk you through the challenging claims process. Also, I will fight for your rights and help you hold those responsible for your loved one's death accountable.
If you have lost a family member, spouse, sibling, child, or parent to a negligent accident, you may recover damages. Contact me at The Law Office of Dan N. Fiorito III today to speak with a trusted wrongful death lawyer. Attorney Dan Fiorito proudly serves clients in Seattle, Washington, and surrounding areas across all of Western Washington, including the Puget Sound Area, Everett, Tacoma, and Bellevue.