Seattle Wrongful Death Lawyer | Wrongful Death
Historically there was no claim for wrongful death. Gradually wrongful death claims were introduced into the law by statute in various jurisdictions, including Washington. Generally there are two types of claims, those brought under the wrongful death statutes and those brought under survival statutes.
Wrongful death claims are claims brought by the deceased’s estate for those who suffer because of the death of a relative.
Survival statutes compensate the death victim through the estate for losses suffered for premature death.
In Washington wrongful death claims must be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. The claims may be brought on behalf of the spouse and the children (which includes stepchildren) of the deceased for “actual pecuniary loss”, but not pain and suffering. If there is no spouse or children claims may be brought by dependent parents or siblings.
Under Washington’s survival statutes personal injury claims may be brought and pain and suffering damages claimed.
Arriving at a damages amount is complex. The deceased’s earnings capacity and life expectancy must be proven. The figures must be reduced to present value. In other words, the dollar amount for the entire earnings capacity for a person’s work life paid today rather than over many years can be invested immediately and therefore has greater value than if paid over many years. Such damages are therefore reduced to present value.
Loss of companionship damages are also complicated. The amount of damages will be determined by the nature and character of the relationship and the deceased’s life expectancy.
All damages may be reduced by any comparative fault of the deceased.
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