Wrongful Death Claim an Attorney Can Help

Losing a loved one is an unimaginable tragedy, and the pain is often compounded when their death is caused by someone else’s negligence or misconduct. In such cases, families may have the option to pursue a wrongful death claim.

A wrongful death differs from murder, which is a criminal case initiated by prosecutors and can result in incarceration. In contrast, a wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought by the deceased’s survivors, corporations, or estate, and cannot directly lead to imprisonment. The primary goal of a wrongful death claim is to seek financial compensation for the losses suffered by the survivors, rather than to punish the wrongdoer.

What Is Needed to Prove a Wrongful Death

To hold a defendant liable in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs must meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have needed if they were alive. A common example is negligence, where the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care and professionalism, and that their failure to fulfill this duty directly caused the victim’s death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The individuals who can file a wrongful death claim vary by jurisdiction but generally include:

  • Immediate family members (spouses, children, parents)
  • Life partners or financial dependents
  • Extended family members in certain circumstances (siblings, grandparents)
  • Representatives of the deceased’s estate

Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

To successfully hold a defendant liable in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs must prove several key elements:

  • The defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. For example, a doctor has a duty to provide competent medical care to patients.
  • The defendant breached this duty through negligence or misconduct. This could involve a driver running a red light or a manufacturer producing a faulty product.
  • The breach of duty directly caused the death of the victim. It must be shown that the death would not have occurred without the defendant’s actions or inaction.
  • The death resulted in quantifiable damages, such as medical costs, funeral expenses, loss of income, and emotional suffering.

How to Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim

It’s imperative you seek the advice of an experienced wrongful death attorney who can guide you through the legal process. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence supporting your claim, which could include medical records, accident reports, and witness testimonies. Once the wrongful death lawsuit is filed with the court, detailing the allegations against the defendant, both parties will exchange information and evidence, such as depositions, interrogatories, and document requests.

Many wrongful death cases are settled out of court. Your attorney will negotiate with the defendant’s legal team to reach a fair settlement, but if a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial. Your attorney will present your case, and a judge or jury will determine the outcome.


A wrongful death claim cannot bring back a loved one, but it can provide financial support and a sense of justice for the surviving family members. Navigating the complexities of such a claim requires the expertise of a skilled attorney who can help ensure that those responsible are held accountable. If your family or anyone you know suffered a loss from wrongful death, contact The Offices of Michael Clark Law in Tacoma. We serve Pierce County and all Western Washington.

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