Russell & Hill, PLLC

Will Parents Of Adult Children Be Able To Sue For Wrongful Death?

Posted on : April 12, 2019Posted By : Denis ZilberbergPosted In : Wrongful Death

There can be nothing worse than a parent getting a phone call or a knock at the door with someone telling them that their child has been killed. Regardless of the age of the child, the pain will be tremendous. Right now, according to state law, parents of adult children killed due to another person’s negligence cannot file wrongful death lawsuits. That may be about to change.

At Russell & Hill, PLLC, we understand that any wrongful death case can be incredibly difficult. That is why we want to help you get through this. Our knowledgeable and experienced team will work to secure the compensation you deserve. If you need a Washington wrongful death attorney, call us today.

Duty of Care and Wrongful Death

The key element of any wrongful death case is establishing a duty of care. This consists of four key elements. The first is a duty which means that the party owed a duty to the victim to keep them from harm. The net element is a breach, this is where it must be proven that the duty of care was breached by the defendant. Causation is the third element which is when the defendants’ negligent actions are shown to have caused the victim’s death. Lastly are damaged, which is when there was direct financial harm caused as a result of the accident. In wrongful death cases, this is presumed since the victim passed away as a result of the accident.

Washington Wrongful Death Laws

The state legislature is working on a bill that would allow parents of adult children who are killed in negligent situations to sue those responsible. SB 5163 would change current law, which prevents such lawsuits.

“People that are making decisions need to hear the cries of parents,” says Rhonda Ellis. “When you lose your child and you lose a whole family in one day it’s significant.”

Rhonda Ellis’s son Josh, along with his wife and child, we all killed instantly when demolition crews dropped a large piece of a highway off of an overpass and onto their truck. Ellis is prevented, under current state law, from filing a lawsuit against the company responsible.

Another woman, Emily Locke, lost her daughter at a crosswalk when a negligent driver struck her. “Washington’s existing law treats my daughter Emily as if her life had no value and that she never existed.”

So far, the state Senate has passed the bill. A House committee is expected to vote on the measure soon.

Currently, there are only a select number of people who can file wrongful death lawsuits. The first is primary beneficiaries which are the spouses, children, and registered domestic partners. Secondary beneficiaries can only file a claim if there are no primary beneficiaries. A secondary beneficiary can be a sibling or parent of a minor child. If the laws were to change then a parent of an adult child would be able to file a claim under the new proposed bill.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when it comes to the loss of a loved one. The first is survival actions. These claims are brought on by the personal representative of the decedents’ estate. Damages can be pursued that could have been claimed in a personal injury lawsuit. Wrongful death claims can be filed by the beneficiaries of the deceased to claim any losses such as lost family income and companionship, support, and love. You should discuss your circumstances with a Washington wrongful death attorney to determine the best route to take.

People lose their loved ones every day due to the negligent actions of other people or companies. Some of the common ways in which wrongful death cases arise are:

  • Drunk driving incidents
  • Distracted driving crashes
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Product malfunctions
  • Swimming pool drownings
  • Birth injuries
  • Maritime accidents

This is not a complete list. You should always speak with a qualified attorney before making any decisions about your particular case. The most important thing is that the people responsible for a loved one’s death are held accountable for their actions.

Recoverable Damages

This can be a difficult topic for most as the last thing you are thinking of is putting a price tag on your deceased loved one. Your job is to grieve while your Washington wrongful death attorney handles the rest. There are various damages that we can seek on your behalf.

The first of these is a funeral and medical expenses. If there were any pre-death medical expenses directly tied to the accident compensation can be recovered. You will also be able to recover any funeral and burial costs. Next is lost income, if the deceased person was working at the time of their death, the family can recover compensation for how much money they would have made if they were not tragically taken from you.

Pre-death pain and suffering can also be recovered. After an accident, the victim may not necessarily pass away at the moment but may be hospitalized for a period of time. During that time pain and suffering, damages can incur. Lastly, we can also seek damages for loss of love, companionship, and guidance. These are things that do not have a price tag and are often considered non-economic damages. They can be very difficult to calculate but they should be as this loss will leave a hole in the family forever. Call a Washington wrongful death attorney to discuss your case immediately after an accident.

How a Washington Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person, company, or agency, you may need to seek legal assistance. At Russell & Hill, PLLC, we know that this is a difficult time for you and your family, so let us investigate what happened, deal with all of the parties involved, and secure the compensation you deserve. When you need a Washington wrongful death attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or calling 206-880-7703.

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