How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Washington State?
Losing a loved one is difficult no matter the circumstances. Family members often go through several stages of grief before they even begin to face the practical implications of the loss. This is true whether the death was caused by an illness or an accident, though, a sudden, unexpected death can be particularly painful.
Wrongful death is when someone dies as a result of the reckless behavior, negligence, or deliberate act of another. Examples include:
- Preventable behavior such as a drunk driver
- Sub-standard care by a medical professional
- Deliberate act such as a physical attack
- Defective product
If you believe that you lost a loved one due to wrongful death, it is very important to seek legal advice from an experienced wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. The wrongful death attorney will look at the events leading up to the death and determine whether it was caused by the actions of another. If so, they will assess the damages caused by the wrongful death in order to determine the value of a potential claim.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim in Washington State?
A statute of limitations is a time limit on the ability to file a legal claim. Each state has its own statutes of limitations for legal action for different types of personal injury claims. Some states also make exceptions for injures that occurred to minor children, allowing the time frame to begin from the date of their 18th birthday. Since wrongful death falls under personal injury law, the statute of limitations applies to any claim brought for wrongful death. In Washington State, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is three years and it is applied to wrongful death claims. It is critical to file a legal claim within this time frame – preferably well before it ends. If an attempt is made after this period to recover damages, the court will not allow pursuance.
Generally, the three-year period begins from the date of the victim’s death, though it is important to understand that the time to file does not always begin from this time. Sometimes the statute of limitations begins when other pieces of information are discovered.
- When an individual’s death is deemed to have occurred from natural causes, but years later, there is evidence of medical malpractice.
- Information about the cause of death is deliberately hidden and later discovered.
- Products used by the deceased were later found to be defective.
Seek the help of a wrongful death lawyer
If you lost a loved one due to a preventable medical error or the reckless behavior of another, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced wrongful death attorney fight for justice on your behalf. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a wrongful death lawyer. Call the most experienced practicing wrongful death attorneys Bellingham has at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing grieving family members in Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!