Wrongful Death FAQs

  1. 1
    What is wrongful death?

    A person may have died a wrongful death if they were killed as a result of the negligence, carelessness or intentional act of another person or entity.

  2. 2
    What is a wrongful death lawsuit?

    A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit that seeks to hold accountable the person or entity responsible for the death of a loved one. A suit is brought by the executor or representative of a deceased person’s estate.

  3. 3
    What is the difference between a civil and criminal case for a death?

    When a person is killed as a result of another person, the defendant may be charged in both civil and criminal courts. A criminal case is brought by the government for the purpose of punishing the person through jail time or other measures while a civil case seeks justice through a monetary settlement.

  4. 4
    What types of damages can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit?

    Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit is seeking “pecuniary” or financial injury compensation for the loss of support, services, potential inheritance, pain and suffering of the deceased, and medical and funeral expenses of the lost relative. The amount of pecuniary loss is determined by a judge or jury based on the age, character and condition of the decedent, his/her earning capacity, life expectancy, health and intelligence, as well as the circumstances of the beneficiaries of the estate.

  5. 5
    Can a wrongful death lawsuit be filed for the loss of a fetus?

    While not every state allows parents to bring wrongful death lawsuits for fetuses, Washington State does allow it if a medical expert can prove that the fetus was “viable.” Viability means that the fetus was healthy before the negligent action and would have been born healthy if it weren’t for the unfortunate incident. 

  6. 6
    Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit for a child or elderly person?

    Yes, a parent, child or adult dependent may file a wrongful death lawsuit for the loss of a child or elderly person. Plaintiff’s should know that because the amount of the settlement of each wrongful death case is determined by the value of the victim’s life to surviving dependents, the deceased person’s lost earning potential is an important factor. Because children and an elderly person past retirement age typically would not be earning income, it often means a much smaller settlement.

  7. 7
    Can I bring a wrongful death action if my spouse was not earning an income?

    Yes, other factors such as the services provided to the family would be used to calculate a reasonable settlement for a person who did not earn an income. A stay-at-home parent, for example, makes contributions to the family such as childcare that are quantifiable as “pecuniary losses” in a wrongful death action.

We look forward to answering all of your questions and speaking with you about your legal needs. When you call our office or send us a message through our consultation request form we will provide a FREE initial consultation and case evaluation. Our attorneys offer home visits with evening and weekend appointments available.