Wrongful Death Attorney in Kent
Providing Compassionate Guidance for Victims’ Families
The wrongful death of a loved one caused by the negligent actions of another can leave huge emotional and financial scars. This is especially true when the loved one was financially responsible for supporting a family.
Our Kent wrongful death lawyer understands the emotional and financial devastation caused when a loved one is killed due to someone else’s negligent actions. With years of legal experience, we provide families with dedicated and tenacious representation and guidance during this very emotional period, while we seek to hold those responsible for the wrongful death accountable their actions.
Schedule a consultation by calling our office at (253) 236-3888.
Defining Wrongful Death in Washington
In Washington, a wrongful death is defined as a death arising from the "wrongful act, neglect, or default of another." A wrongful death claim is in many ways similar to a personal injury claim with the main difference being that the plaintiff has died, requiring the case to be filed on the decedent's behalf by their surviving family. Wrongful death cases are civil lawsuits meant to compensate the decedent's family for losses related to their loved one's death. Additionally, wrongful death cases may be filed even if a case related to the death is already being tried in a criminal court.
Who Is Entitled to Recover Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?
In the State of Washington, the legislature has adopted a statute that provides two classifications or levels governing who is entitled to recover in the event of a wrongful death caused by the negligent or intentional act of another:
- The first classification pertains to the spouse and children (including adopted children and step children) of the decedent, who are automatically entitled to bring a lawsuit (this does not mean that they will automatically be awarded damages; liability must first be proven).
- The second classification generally consists of parents and siblings of the deceased who were financially dependent upon the decedent.
The exception in the second classification is that a parent may bring a lawsuit for the wrongful death of a child if the child is a minor. In this circumstance, parents do not have to show financial dependence.
If a couple has a registered domestic partnership, the surviving partner may be entitled to bring a wrongful death action. Surviving parents of an adult child who is unmarried and leaves no children at the time of death may also recover for the loss of their son or daughter.
Do You Have Standing to Bring a Wrongful Death Action?
In order to recover for a wrongful death in the State of Washington, a Personal Representative must be first appointed. The Personal Representative is entitled to act on behalf of the Estate, and on behalf of the beneficiaries. If you are a relative mentioned in the first classification, or a parent of a minor who was killed, then you should be a beneficiary of the wrongful death statute. If you are a relative mentioned in the second category, we would need to know more about the facts and circumstances of your case to determine whether you were financially dependent upon the deceased loved one according to Washington state law.
If this is your situation, or if you are a personal representative (or if a family member has been killed and a personal representative has not yet been appointed) please call us so that we can learn more about your case. Our initial consultation is free, and there is no obligation to use us. At the consultation you can learn about our services, and we can learn about your case and help you understand the options that may be available.
What to Do After a Wrongful Death
When a wrongful death suddenly occurs, many families do not immediately know what to do or where to turn for help. You may be unsure why your loved one's death occurred, as well as being uncertain who is to primarily responsible for their death.
If you suspect your loved one's death may make your family eligible to file a wrongful death claim, there are several steps you should take:
- Gather evidence at the accident scene. The more evidence you gather, and the sooner you do so, the stronger your case will be. If you can, get the contact information of witnesses, take photographs, and take notes about any details that help explain what happened.
- Keep notes of any details surrounding your loved one's death, such as what they were doing at the time of the accident and immediately beforehand.
- Keep a record of any medical care your loved one received prior to their passing, as well as any final expenses such as funeral costs.
- Depending on the nature of your loved one's passing, you may be contacted by a local media outlet and asked to give a statement. Avoid making any kind of statement if you intend to seek legal action, as it often will end up doing more harm than good for your case.
- Contact an attorney as soon as possible. While it may be difficult to think about the legality of your situation after losing a loved one, you must take quick action to guard your family's rights and pursue compensation. The sooner you get in touch with an attorney, the more time you have to build a strong case.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
There is a three year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Washington. In other words, you have until the third anniversary of your loved one's death to seek legal action against the responsible party. With that being said, this timeline may be longer or shorter in some cases. For this reason, it is crucial you get an attorney involved in your case as early as possible to guard against potentially costly pitfalls.
Working to Convince Defendants & Insurance Companies to Settle
In the case of wrongful death litigation, our firm works to build ironclad cases for our clients and help them recover full damages for their loss. We understand the tactics often employed by defendants to avoid paying their due. They may attempt to prolong the litigation process as much as possible, offer inadequate settlements, or even try to shift blame onto third parties – or even the victim.
We understand the proof insurance companies require when considering a large payout for their clients. In the case of a wrongful death, because the amount of damages is often high, insurance companies usually will not enter into negotiations for a reasonable settlement unless it can be proven that their client is liable, and that they are likely to lose a significant amount at trial.
We seek to prove liability in the early stages of litigation (often after depositions and other discovery has occurred) so that meaningful settlement discussions can take place.
Trial-Tested Counsel When You Need It
While we work hard to seek fair and just settlements for our clients in wrongful death matters prior to trial, in some cases defendants are not willing to pay a reasonable settlement for their actions. If this is the case, we are well prepared to go to trial to seek to prove the case of our clients before a jury. Our founder Jim Dore has successfully helped clients obtain full and fair compensation at trial when defendant refuse to settle for fair compensation.
Find Out How We May Be Able to Help
If a loved one has been killed due to the negligent actions of someone else, call us for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can learn about your case, and discuss with you the options that may be available. If we are retained, we will work hard to obtain for you the full measure of damages to which you may be entitled.
Contact us today to learn more about your situation and your options. Our Kent wrongful death attorney is here to guide you through this process.
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