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When a family member dies due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another person, the family may suffer financial loss, and Pierce County personal injury lawyers may help. Family members may file a wrongful death suit to recover damages the decedent’s death imposed. Knowing the prerequisites for such lawsuits and understanding the process is important.
What Is a Wrongful Death Suit?
A wrongful death suit is a civil action against a negligent or careless party whose behavior caused another person’s death. The behavior that allows family members to recover damages from the individual whose negligence or wrongdoing precipitated the person’s death varies. It may follow a criminal action. For instance, someone driving drunk is breaking the law, and if this behavior results in a fatal accident, the drunk driver may be charged with vehicular homicide. The criminal charges depend on evidence that proves the person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite the outcome of a criminal trial, the decedent’s family may file a wrongful death suit, which relies on a preponderance of the evidence.
Origin of a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death can result from a number of different situations. A malpractice suit where a doctor acts negligently and causes a patient’s death may result in a wrongful death suit by the patient’s surviving family members. Beyond motor vehicle accidents and criminal acts, other causes may include death caused by negligent release of a toxic substance into the environment by a manufacturer.
Real Parties of Interest
Family members who suffer financial loss due to the person’s death are called the real parties of interest. There are restrictions on who may be considered eligible. Generally, the immediate family including a spouse and children as well as adopted children may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the decedent is unmarried, his or her parents may initiate the lawsuit. In addition, the parents of a dead fetus may be able to file a wrongful death suit. Since eligibility may vary from state to state, consulting Pierce County personal injury lawyers who are familiar with state statutes in Washington may be helpful.
Pecuniary Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit
Pecuniary damages make up the financial loss your family may face. It includes loss of support, funeral and end of life expenses, medical bills, loss of companionship and lost inheritance. To determine the extent of pecuniary loss,the court may evaluate the decedent’s age, earning capacity during his or her lifetime and, in some cases, the future earnings the individual may have had. If the decedent was unemployed but contributed to the family’s well-being or functioned as a stay-at-home mother or father, this may be considered a pecuniary loss.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the period of time within which you must file a lawsuit. In Washington, the statute of limitations is set at three years. If three years has passed after the person died, the lawsuit may not be filed.
Consult Pierce County Personal Injury Lawyers
When you have a family member who dies due to the negligence or wrongful acts of another, you may consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Gaining the insight of Pierce County personal injury lawyers may help. Call Greene & Lloyd, PLLC at (253) 770-0808.