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Wrongful Death

What is wrongful death?

Wrongful death is when someone dies due to the fault of another person or entity, like a company. People, companies, and government agencies can be legally at fault for acting negligently, for failing to act as a reasonable person would have acted, and for intentional acts that cause harm.

A wrongful death claim is a special kind of personal injury lawsuit that is made when a person is killed due to another party’s negligence. This type of lawsuit seeks financial compensation for the survivors’ losses including lost wages from the deceased person, expenses including funeral and burial expenses, and lost companionship.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death claim is filed by a representative on behalf of the survivors who have suffered damages from the death. These survivors can be:

  • Immediate family members including adopted children and parents of unmarried children;
  • Life partners and financial dependents;
  • In some states, distant family members like siblings and grandparents;
  • In some states, any person who suffers a financial loss from the death.

Who may be sued for a wrongful death?

Many people, companies, and agencies can be named in a wrongful death lawsuit, depending on their roles in the fatal incident. These can include:

  • The at-fault driver in a car crash;
  • The person or company that sold alcohol to a drunk driver who caused a collision;
  • The parole officer who should have been supervising a parolee who drove drunk;
  • The government agency that designed a dangerous roadway that contributed to a crash.

To successfully complete a wrongful death suit, the plaintiffs, (the deceased person’s survivors) must prove that the at-fault party owed a duty of care to the deceased, and that they failed in that duty which was the cause of the death, and that the death caused the damages that the plaintiffs are attempting to recover.

Wrongful death claims are complicated and emotionally difficult for the surviving family members. It is always advisable to find an experienced personal injury attorney to handle a wrongful death claim, so that families can focus on healing and moving forward in life as best they can.

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Everett-Bellingham WA

How is a personal representative appointed in a wrongful death claim? [Interview]

If your loved one has been killed in an accident, you are probably hearing about this term "personal representative" perhaps for the first time. How is a personal representative appointed after a wrongful death claim? It's a legal process, not an automatic one. A personal representative must file a petition with the court asking to be appointed. Along with the petition, the court must be provided all supporting documents related to the death (i.e., certificate and will). The process can be complex even at a highly emotional and stressful time. To learn more about appointing a personal representative after a wrongful death claim, click to watch this video interview.

Everett-Bellingham WA

The role of a personal representative in a wrongful death suit explained [Interview]

In this video, personal injury lawyer Bill Coats talks about what the personal representative's role and responsibilities are in wrongful death claims. His advice? Hire an attorney to bring forth any claims for negligence. An attorney is the person best equipped with the legal knowledge and credentials to file the correct documents in court in a timely fashion. 

The best and most experienced personal injury lawyer will be the best advocate for the personal representative and other beneficiaries on the claim. It's critical to hire someone who has the knowledge and skills to reach the best and highest settlement. This is how to recoup financial losses both past and future due to accidents from someone else's negligence. 

Everett-Bellingham WA

You may be wondering who can be the beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim [Interview]

If someone close to you has died, you may swimming in unpaid bills and wondering about where future money will come after losing an income stream. It's natural to wonder who can be named a beneficiary on a wrongful death claim and receive financial help after such a devastating loss. Click to watch this video that explains who can be named the beneficiary in a wrongful death claim

Everett-Bellingham WA

If a loved one died in an accident, this could be considered a wrongful death

A wrongful death can happen in a variety of ways, from a car or truck accident to a medical procedure that goes tragically wrong. Regardless of the cause, a wrongful death is always heartbreaking, and the resulting claim takes a special kind of experience to handle effectively. When a loved one dies as the result of negligence or recklessness, family members are overwhelmed with grief, anger, and confusion as to what to do next. Often the at-fault party will deny liability and will seek to place blame elsewhere, even on the victim. The legal process can be overwhelming for family members who are mourning and trying to come to terms with what has happened. When a wrongful death happens, the legal stakes are higher and more challenging, the at-fault parties fight harder, and the process can be stressful for surviving family members. If a loved one died during an accident it is quite possible you could file a wrongful death claim. Click to learn more.

Everett-Bellingham WA

If a loved one has been killed while riding a motorcycle, you are suffering too

Each time bikers get on the road, they are at the mercy of other drivers in cars that weigh on average four tons - not to mention tracks and semi-tractor trailers. In a crash with one of them, the odds seriously are stacked against the motorcycle driver. Terribly, sometimes this means fatal injuries for the motorcycle driver. If a loved one has been killed while on a motorcycle, chances are you dealing with painful grief and worry. Though nothing can bring back your family as it was before, help is available for the survivor's journey.

Topeka, KS

DEADLY EARTHQUAKES. CAN MY LOVED ONES SUE WHEN MY CEILING CAVES IN?

If you’ve noticed an increase in the number of earthquakes throughout the Midwest, you are not alone. Geologists say there were over 600 earthquakes of 1.5 or greater magnitude in Kansas in 2014. Earthquakes can cause severe injuries or even death. Does our civil justice system allow you or your family to sue if property damage, injury or death result from an earthquake? Go here to learn more...
  On March 18, 2008, Lawrence Lovejoy, 74, was riding his motorcycle on Highway 154 in Los Olivos, California when a car operated by Harriet Ann Visscher turned left in front of him as it was entering the road. Lovejoy crashed into the side of the car. He died from injuries sustained in the accident, while Visscher died of a heart attack six hours later. Lovejoy's surviving family sued Visscher's estate for motor vehicle negligence. The family and their lawyers argued that Visscher's negligent driving was the sole cause cause of the accidetnt.
On September 23, 2005, Shannon Nielson, a 38-year-old hairstylist, was riding on the back of a motorcycle that her fiance, Troy McDaniel, was driving on the Mt. Rose Highway in the Sierra Nevada range of California. As they were riding on the highway, they came across a flatbed truck operated by Carl McAlister, an employee of the White Cap Construction Supply company. McDaniel grounded the motorcycle to avoid striking the truck, which was making a U-turn on the two-lane highway. The couple skidded on the pavement towards the truck and were run over by its rear wheels.

What every family needs to know about a wrongful death case

When someone is killed because of the carelessness or misconduct of another person, the surviving members of the victim's family may bring a "wrongful death" lawsuit.  Wrongful death lawsuits can also be filed against corporations and governmental agencies for their negligence. A wrongful death lawsuit may only be filed by the personal representative of the decedent's estate. This is usually a close family member, like a spouse, adult child or parent. A personal injury attorney can assist in helping the family have a personal representative appointed.