If someone close to you has died in a car accident, you might be allowed to bring a lawsuit for wrongful death. State law controls these claims, including who can sue, how much compensation they can collect, what they have to prove, and how soon they have to start the legal proceedings. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit for a car accident can be difficult, but our team can manage it for you.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Washington State
Our state law allows legal actions for compensation against someone who caused the death of your loved one by:
- A wrongful act,
- Wrongful neglect, or
- Wrongful default.
In a car accident case, the person at fault in the wreck causing the death of your loved one is responsible for their death. The wrongful act, neglect, or default can be intentional or negligent (an unintentional mistake). For example, if someone acting in road rage caused a crash and killed someone, the driver’s intentional act will make him liable for wrongful death.
An unintentional act can also make an individual liable for the wrongful death of another person. Let’s say the driver of a tractor-trailer reached under the front seat to pick up a dropped item and did not see traffic ahead had stopped. He smashes into the back of a car, killing the occupants. He is liable for their wrongful deaths.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death from a Car Accident
There are multiple levels of priority for deciding who gets to file a lawsuit for wrongful death in Washington State. Those with first priority are:
- The surviving spouse or state-registered domestic partner
- A surviving child or step-child
- The personal representative of the decedent’s estate
If the decedent had no surviving spouse, state-registered domestic partner, child, or step-child, then others could file an action if they meet all of these requirements:
- They’re the parents or siblings of the deceased.
- They were residents of the U.S. at the time of the death.
- They depended on the deceased for support.
Compensation You Can Recover for Wrongful Death
If the personal representative brings the wrongful death lawsuit, she cannot collect damages for things like loss of companionship. If your claim includes such losses, someone other than the personal representative, such as the surviving spouse or child, should file the lawsuit.
Typical damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can include:
- The medical bills from the car accident to the time your loved one died
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of support and future earnings
- Pain and suffering for what your loved one endured from the crash until she passed away
- Property damage
- Intangible damages, like loss of companionship and loss of care
A jury in Washington State is allowed to award whatever amount of damages they feel is appropriate under the total circumstances. Our state does not set a cap on the number of damages one can recover in a wrongful death case.
We will use the medical records, law enforcement accident report, and employer records to build your case for compensation. If necessary, we’ll work with experts in accident reconstruction (to determine what caused the accident) and vocational experts (to estimate your deceased loved one’s career prospects but for the crash).
How Quickly You Have to Sue for a Car Accident Wrongful Death
You only have three years to bring a lawsuit for wrongful death from a car accident in Washington State. During moments of grief, it can be easy to lose track of time. Talk with Max Meyers Law as soon as you feel able to do so, to protect you and your family’s right to compensation for your loss.
How Much Your Wrongful Death Claim is Worth
The amount of your compensation will depend on many factors, and the details are unique in every case. As a result, we sit down with you and uncover what happened, then engage in a thoughtful process of evaluating your case.
Things that can affect how much compensation you’ll receive include:
- The number of medical bills from the crash
- The earnings history and previous career potential of your deceased loved one
- Whether your loved one suffered between the time of injury and death
- Whether the at-fault driver’s behavior was shocking
- Possible negligence on the part of your loved one
Getting Legal Help with Your Car Accident Wrongful Death Claim
It does not cost you anything to talk with a car accident lawyer about getting justice for your loved one who died in a car accident. Call Max Meyers Law today at 425-399-7000. We will take a look at what happened and tell you if we might have a claim for damages for wrongful death. The consultation is free. We do not charge attorney’s fees until you win compensation.