Parents of an unmarried young adult child, who had no kids of his or her own, can finally make a wrongful death claim against someone who negligently causes the death of their child. This has not been the case in Washington for the last 110 years. We are the last state in the USA to finally fix this gap in the wrongful death laws. It took the spotlight of the “Ride the Ducks” tragedy to get the law changed.
Wrongful death laws at the core are loss of relationship claims - someone has negligently stolen a lifelong family relationship from you. In the past when a young adult, usually between the ages of 18-29, dies in a vehicle accident caused by the carelessness of another driver, a wrongful death claim could only be made by the young adult’s spouse or kids.
The parents of the young adult did not have a legal right of their own to assert a wrongful death claim unless they could prove they were financially dependent on the child (which was almost never). It was a tragic gap in the law that inflicted a second severe wound to the heart of parents. It seemed like the carelessness of an at-fault driver would go almost unpunished, at least it felt that way to most parents in this situation.
The new law takes effect July 28, 2019. The new law applies to all fatal accident claims that are pending in court on that date, and also those that are not barred by the three-year statute of limitation. That means if the accident that killed your child was between July 28, 2016 – July 28, 2019 you may now make a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. Call us immediately at 425-399-7000 if this applies to you, especially if the accident was in 2016.