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

An accident resulting in death brings up many questions for survivors. We have answers.

After an automobile accident, especially when someone has died, it's natural to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what happens next. Bill Coats Law, in Bellingham Washington, has put together a YouTube Channel to answer some common question in hopes to help accident victims start on the right path to full financial recovery. Click here to get the answers you need.

Everett-Bellingham WA

Survivors may have to pay back the health insurance company after an auto accident

Bellingham personal injury lawyer Bill Coats recorded a series of videos to discuss common policies and pitfalls of the insurance claims process. One of these is called subrogation, and is an important concept that accident victims and survivors of those who were fatally injured need to know. To learn more about this common insurance policy aspect, click here.

Everett-Bellingham WA

A heart-breaking case result of negligence resulting in a child's wrongful death

Negligence can come in so many forms, but in essence means that someone was supposed to do something in a certain way, and did not. This heart-breaking case shows how a personal injury lawyer in Bellingham, WA worked on a wrongful death claim for a child killed because of a long chain of unfortunate events that could have been prevented if not for a government official's negligence.

Everett-Bellingham WA

One family's story of claiming wrongful death against their son's drowning

Jet skis may look like harmless fun and seem as though they are so easy to operate a child could do it. However, they are capable of high speeds and can be dangerous. Jet skis require training in order to use. When that training is not taken seriously, and children operate these vehicles without adult supervision, accidents can happen. Here is one story of how that accident resulted in the death of a teen.

Everett-Bellingham WA

If a loved one died in an accident, consider this before talking with the insurance company [VIDEO]

Deaths that occur needlessly due to someone else's negligence are very complex situations. Along with all the emotions that a survivor must sort through, the loss brings up financial questions and concerns. How to pay for funeral costs? And if the deceased was a financial provider, how will their income be replaced? Here's the one thing you should do as soon as possible. Click this link to watch a short video to answer the most frequently asked question of survivors of fatal accidents.


Everett-Bellingham WA

When a bicycle accident is fatal, survivors have hard decisions to make

No one wants to lose a loved one to an accident. But to lose someone because of the negligence or recklessness of another person makes the loss that much harder. Survivors often face anger and confusion in the aftermath of a wrongful death, and yet have so many decisions to make, from funeral arrangements to learning how to live without their loved ones. And making ends meet can be more pain on top of what feels insurmountable. If your loved one was killed while riding their bike, it is unfortunately not likely that the insurers from the negligent driver’s car company are going to offer compensation that fully covers your losses. Having a personal injury attorney on your side can make your financial recovery possible so that you can focus on the emotional healing. Click for more information on filing wrongful death claims from a bike accident.

Everett-Bellingham WA

The challenges of a wrongful death claim against a trucking company

A vehicle accident is scary, frightening, and awful. When that wreck results in the death of your loved one, it is one of the hardest things in life to go through. If it’s because of a truck driver or company’s negligence, it’s unconscionable. While you might want to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties, the thought of that might feel insurmountably difficult. You know it will be a long, uphill battle, and will take lot of mental and emotional preparation. Truck companies can be ruthless in dealing with accident victims, and will be trying to discredit you or simply fluster and frustrate you when you’re grieving, and just trying to stay afloat after a loved one’s death. Is your best option to simply take what the trucking company offers you in a wrongful death claim

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.