A wrongful death is one of the most devastating situations for friends and family of the victim. The process of pursuing a legal claim while trying to heal is exhausting to say the least. There are a lot of things to take care of in the event of a death in the family, much of which requires some level of expertise or knowledge. Because of how complex and confusing these cases can be, it is always best to consult with a medical malpractice attorney.
What you need to know about wrongful death cases
By the letter of the Washington State law, a wrongful death is any loss of life that was “caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another.” A wrongful death claim may be filed on behalf of certain surviving relatives to recover financial compensation against the party responsible for the death. A wrongful act can be intentional, such as an assault or murder, or it can be unintentional, such as negligence or malpractice. An individual person can be held accountable for the death of another person due to intentional or unintentional wrongful acts, and this is typically the case in the event of an intentional wrongful death. However, nonpersons (such as a government entity or business) can be held legally responsible in a wrongful death case as well.
Even before attempting to determine fault or negligence, loved ones must be able to go through the grieving process in a healthy manner. The length of time you need to grieve will vary. Once family and friends have had a chance to heal from the tragedy, the process of filing a wrongful death claim can begin.
Why consult with an attorney?
Because of the delicate nature of a wrongful death claim, many surviving relatives would naturally be hesitant to hand over such a private matter to an attorney. The high monetary value and extreme complexity that accompanies a wrongful death claim makes it that much more important to leave the legal work to a wrongful death attorney. “There is a high burden of proof required in successfully proving a wrongful death case,” says Seattle wrongful death attorney Chris Davis. “They are the toughest battles to fight on your own and with so many bills for the surviving family to pay for, you really don’t want to risk getting an unfair settlement.”
States also have strict time limits for when a wrongful death claim must be filed in the courts, called the Statute of Limitations. In Washington State, the Statute of Limitations is typically three years from the date of the loss of life. However, just because you have three years to file a claim does not mean it is a good idea to do so. “Not only is it a dangerous practice to wait until the end of the three-year period before filing suit, but most wrongful death cases should be investigated immediately following the person’s death,” Davis added, noting that the more detailed the investigation is, the more facts can be presented in the favor of the person pursuing a claim.
If you are the surviving relative of someone who lost their life due to the wrongful actions or negligence of another person or entity, you may be entitled to a wrongful death claim and financial compensation. Contact a wrongful death attorney today to learn more about your legal rights and options.
(Article Source and Quotes provided by Christopher Davis – Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer)