Losing a loved one is never easy. Knowing that their death could have been prevented, that they were killed due to the negligence of another, would be even harder. If you lose a loved one because of the negligence of an individual, company, or agency, you could have a wrongful death claim on your hands.
What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil action, normally brought forth by relatives of the decedent, such as parents, spouses, or children, against the person or organization responsible for causing, or contributing to their loved one’s death. The purpose is to compensate the family for damages suffered as a result of their loss.
Possible recoverable wrongful death damages:
A defendant could be responsible for monetary losses suffered by the decedent’s family members as a result of the death. These damages may include medical and funeral expenses, lost wages, and other financial support that the deceased would have provided in the future.
General damages are a monetary recovery in which there is no exact dollar amount that can be calculated. General damages include, but are not limited to, pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of companionship.
Punitive damages are awarded when compensatory damages are deemed insufficient. They are intended as a punishment to the party at fault, and to discourage not only the guilty party, but others, in engaging in similar conduct in the future. These types of damages are only awarded in special circumstances, when it’s proven that the defendant acted with malice, intent, or extreme recklessness. Not every state allows punitive damages. In Washington, they can only be assessed in certain cases under statute.
The standard of proof for a wrongful death claim is “to a preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that the plaintiff must convince the judge or jury that over 50% of the evidence is in the plaintiff’s favor, or more likely than not. This differs from the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases. The burden of proof in a criminal case is always assigned to the prosecution. They have to prove that no other logical explanation can be reached from the evidence except that the defendant committed the crime. So, even if a person is acquitted of a murder, they can still be held liable in a civil wrongful death suit, as in the O.J. Simpson murder case.
When you have a wrongful death claim on your hands, seek the advice of a personal injury attorney right away, as time limits apply when filing this type of case. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit varies from state to state. In the State of Washington, a wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the death, or the claim is no longer valid.
If you feel you have a wrongful death lawsuit on your hands, contact MBC by phone (253-472-6000 or 800-992-9529), email or our online form to set up a free consultation. We have over 25 years experience with wrongful death lawsuits.
Money won’t bring your loved one back, but it may help ease the burden of economic losses relating to their death and hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.