Wrongful Death

If a person dies due to the negligence of another party, the relatives of the deceased may be able to recover compensation for their loved one’s “wrongful death.” This should be a straightforward principle, but in Washington, the laws are messy, confusing, and can be unfair to certain family members.

For example, the wrongful death laws in Washington are contained in five separate statutes that set forth the type of legal actions that can be raised in negligence-related death. Two of the statutes are referred to as the “wrongful death” statutes,1 and the other three are known as “survival” statutes.2

It is critical to note that a full understanding of these complex laws is difficult and any individual with a potential wrongful death claim should seek legal counsel as soon as they can do so.


1. RCW 4.20.010 and 4.20.020
2. RCW 4.20.046, 4.20.060, 4.24.010