Personal Injury Lawyer Seattle
Robert Kornfeld Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Lawyer
(425) 893-8989 - (800) 282-4878

Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful Death Attorney Provides Closure and Help to Victim’s Families

wrongful-deathHere’s what RCW 4.20.020 says: Every such action shall be for the benefit of the wife, husband, state registered domestic partner, child or children, including stepchildren, of the person whose death shall have been so caused. If there be no wife, husband, state registered domestic partner, or such child or children, such action may be maintained for the benefit of the parents, sisters, or brothers, who may be dependent upon the deceased person for support, and who are resident within the United States at the time of his or her death.

Rob Kornfeld handles wrongful death claims in the areas of medical malpractice, construction, maritime, motor vehicle collisions, nursing home and other areas where a wrongful death is caused by another’s negligence. In a recent case, Rob won a $2,225,000 settlement for the widow and her two children after her husband, a cable installer, suffered electrical burns and died. The settlement came on day one of the trial.

Most Common Questions We’re Asked About Wrongful Death Claims

Q. What is a wrongful death?
A. Wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of negligence, a defective product or a deliberate act of a person or entity.

Q. What is the difference between a wrongful death and a murder?
A. Wrongful death is a civil claim that seeks compensation for the untimely passing of a loved one caused by someone else. Murder is a criminal charge which seeks justice and punishment against the person that caused the death.

Q. Who can sue for wrongful death?
A. In Washington, the spouse and surviving dependent children can file a wrongful death claim. If a dependent child dies, parents may file a child death claim. Alternately, the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate may sue for damages. A child, even an adult child that doesn’t depend on their parent for support, can bring a claim for the loss of a parent.

Q. Can parents sue for the wrongful death of an adult child?
A. Under the Special Personal Injury Survival Statute, adult dependents (either siblings or parents) can sue for damages for the loss of their adult child. Washington law says a parent can recover damages for the death of an adult child, 18 years of age or older, if they are dependent on the deceased for support – either financial or because they’re a caregiver.

Q. What kind of damages can I expect to collect?
A. This can vary considerably. In general, you can expect to recover medical costs for treatments associated with the wrongful death incident, funeral and burial costs, loss of income and benefits you would have received during the rest of your loves one’s expected lifetime, pain and suffering damages as the survivors, mental anguish, loss of companionship compensation, loss of protection and loss of inheritance if this would have occurred at a later date. Punitive damages can only be collected if malicious intent can be proven.

Q. How do you calculate future damages?
A. We use life expectancy tables to calculate how many more years the deceased would have likely contributed financially. Then we use typical earnings to calculate how much this would add up to at the time of retirement. The retirement contribution is then calculated based on current tables. After the two are added together, we have an idea of what the future damages would be.

Q. If I settle out of court, is the amount of the settlement public record?
A. There is no legal requirement to make the settlement amount public and you may request that the terms and dollar amount of the settlement agreement be kept confidential. More often, the party you’re suing will want to keep the settlement out of the public record and will ask you to sign a nondisclosure statement. This should be considered carefully before agreeing to this stipulation. A wrongful death attorney has the knowledge to help you weigh the consequences of these arrangements.

Q. Where should I file my wrongful death case?
A. Generally, you will file a civil action for a wrongful death claim in the state and county where the accident or injury that caused death occurred.

Q. My family member died at work. Can I sue the employer for wrongful death?
A. Typically, your only recourse will be under the worker’s compensation laws of Washington. But if it can be proven that someone other than the employer was at fault for the death, such as a subcontractor, co-worker or product manufacturer, you may have other options and the right to bring a third party claim against the negligent person or entity. You need expert advice if this happened.

Q. I believe that I have a claim against a government entity. How do I go about filing a wrongful death claim against a governmental organization?
A. There are special rules surrounding claims against political entities and governmental bodies. Whether your case is against a city, school district, water district or other government entity, you need to contact a wrongful death attorney so that the proper procedures are pursued.

Q. How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
A. In Washington, you generally have three years to file your wrongful death claim, but there are exceptions. Consult a lawyer immediately to find out more about the statute of limitations.

Q. How much does it cost to get a consultation with an attorney?
A. We never charge for an initial consultation and for a case evaluation. To ensure you get the best results for your wrongful death claim, you need a lawyer that specializes in handling wrongful death cases. Rob Kornfeld has extensive experience and success with this type of claim and is ready to help you now.

Email our offices at or call 1 (800) 282-4878 to schedule a case evaluation over the telephone, by e-mail or in person at a convenient location for you, either at our main office, a satellite meeting location, in your home or at the hospital.