What Are Your Legal Rights in a Wrongful Death Case?

When a loved one dies because of someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, you may have two types of legal actions available. One is a survival action, and the other is a wrongful death action.

A survival action, as the name suggests, is a claim that survives the decedent's death. Washington’s survival statutes do not create new a cause of action for the decedent’s family, but instead preserve the claims that the decedent could have brought if he or she had survived. In other words, the survival statutes preserve causes of action for injuries suffered prior to death, such as medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering.


In contrast, the Washington wrongful death statute allows certain family members to bring a wrongful death action for the damages they suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. A wrongful death action can be filed by the deceased person's spouse, domestic partner, children and stepchildren. If no such people exist, then the victim’s parents and siblings can bring suit, but only if they were dependent on financial support from the decedent.

Through wrongful death lawsuits, the relatives can seek compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Projected income
  • Property damage
  • Loss of care, companionship and other noneconomic benefits

By working with an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can hold those who caused your loved one's death accountable. It makes sense to put your trust in attorneys who have decades of experience and a successful track record.

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