Losing a loved one is never easy. When the loss of life occurs unexpectedly and due to the negligent actions of another person, it can be even harder to take. Unfortunately, every year, numerous families in Washington experience this. Thankfully, state laws may allow them to pursue wrongful death claims in civil court to seek compensation for their losses.
Elements needed for a case to be successful
For a wrongful death claim to be successful, certain elements must exist in one’s case. The first is that the death of an individual must have occurred. The second is that the death was caused by someone else’s negligence or intent to harm. The third is that the victim’s surviving family members must have experienced financial losses because of the death. Finally, the fourth is that a personal representative has been assigned to handle the decedent’s estate, as only the personal representative can file this type of claim.
Damages awarded in wrongful death cases are primarily for monetary losses, though it may be possible to seek compensation for any psychological damages suffered by surviving family members as well. The amount awarded typically depends on various factors. Some of those factors include the decedent’s:
- Overall health before death
- Life expectancy before death
- Potential earning capacity
The courts will also look at the economic and non-economic losses already incurred by the victim’s family. Economic losses may include funeral expenses, medical costs, lost wages and benefits. Non-economic losses may include loss of physical and emotional support — among others.
How are these cases settled?
Some wrongful death cases filed in Washington can be settled without ever setting foot in a courtroom. If, however, the negotiations process fails to produce desirable results, litigating the matter may be appropriate. Either way, legal counsel can be at one’s side, helping one fight for maximum relief.