Wrongful Death Survival Statute


In addition to seeking “actual pecuniary loss” on behalf of statutory beneficiaries Washington has three survival statutes under which a deceased’s injury claim may be brought. Washington has three wrongful death survival statutes, a general survival statute and two that relate to personal injury claims.

General Survival Statute

Under the general survival statute the personal representative may bring actions of behalf of the estate for injuries that did not result in death.[1] The estate is the beneficiary of any recovery and any recovery is an asset of the estate.[2] The estate is compensated as if the decedent had survived to life expectancy.

The general survival statute does permits a decedent’s personal representative to recover noneconomic damages on behalf of the decedent’s estate for the decedent’s pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.[3]

“Death by Personal Injury” Statute

Under the “death by personal injury” survival statute the personal representative can bring an action for pain and suffering for injuries that caused death, but only for statutorily designated beneficiaries.[4] Surviving spouses and children do not have to prove dependency for claims under this provision[5] and damages for pain and suffering are allowed. [6]

Death of Child Statute

Parents of a minor child or a child upon whom they are dependent may bring a claim under RCW 4.24.010. The parents of a viable but unborn child may bring a claim under the statute.[7] Recoverable damages include medical expenses, loss of love and companionship, and for destruction of the parent child relationship.


[1] RCW 4.20.046(1); Higbee v. Shorewood Osteopathic Hosp., 105 Wn.2d 33 (1985).

[2] Tait v. Wahl, 97 Wn. App. 765 (1999).

[3] Id.

[4] Id.; RCW 4.20.020.

[5] Higbee.

[6] Tait.

[7] Guard v. Jackson, 132 Wn.2d 660 (1997); Cavazos v. Franklin, 73 Wn.App. 116 (1994); Moen v. Hanson, 85 Wn.2d 597 (1975).