Riding bicycles is an enjoyable form of exercise, as well as a great way to get around. When a cyclist is involved in an accident, however, the injuries are often serious and sometimes fatal. Automobiles are substantially larger, faster, and heavier than bicycles, making an accident involving a car and a bicycle a one-sided affair. If you have lost a loved one due to a driver's negligence in Washington or Oregon, the attorneys at Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards, PS can help you.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is an action which is brought against the person who is responsible for your loved one's death. In many bicycle cases, the person responsible for your loved one's death would be a driver who wasn't paying attention and caused an accident. In a wrongful death claim, the estate of your loved one can bring legal action against this individual.
Wrongful death claims are not usually brought by the family members of your loved one; rather, these lawsuits are generally filed by the personal representative of your loved one's estate.
Who is Eligible to Benefit from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Individuals who are eligible to recover compensation for the wrongful death of another person are referred to as "beneficiaries." Determining who is a potential beneficiary following the death of a loved one depends on the state in which the wrongful death action is being filed, as there is not a universal list of individuals who are eligible to recover from a wrongful death case.
In Washington, the applicable wrongful death statute naming eligible beneficiaries is RCW 4.20.020. This law states that the following people can recover from a wrongful death action:
- The wife or husband of the deceased
- The registered domestic partner of the deceased
- The child or stepchildren of the deceased
If the deceased individual did not have a spouse, registered domestic partner, or children, then the following people can recover from a wrongful death action:
- Parents of the deceased
- Brothers or sisters of the deceased
Oregon Revised Statute 30.020 governs who can recover compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one. The statute provides that the following individuals may be eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The husband or wife of the deceased
- The children or stepchildren of the deceased
- The parents or stepparents of the deceased
This statute also provides that any individual who would be entitled to a portion of the decedent's estate if he or he died without a will. Determining who is eligible to recover under this circumstance--known as "intestacy"--can be a difficult task. The more distant of a relationship you have with your loved one, the harder it will be to recover compensation for his or her death. An attorney who has experience with wrongful death actions will be able to determine whether you are eligible to recover compensation for your loved one's death.
Available Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you are struggling financially following the death of a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit may provide compensation for the loss which you have suffered following your loved one's death. A wrongful death action can provide compensation, otherwise known as "damages", for costs such as:
- Funeral Expenses: A funeral can be an extremely costly expense and can take a huge financial toll on you. Caskets alone can cost thousands of dollars. Even cremation, typically a more cost-efficient route, can be several thousand dollars. When you add a funeral and possibly a graveside service, the whole process can cost over ten thousand dollars. A wrongful death action can help compensate you for reasonable funeral and burial expenses incurred as a result of your loved one's death.
- Medical Expenses: If your loved one suffered severe injuries before dying, you may be left with many medical expenses to pay back. A wrongful death action takes into account medical bills incurred while trying to save your loved one.
- Loss of Income Provided by Your Loved One: The loss of a loved one can be particularly difficult if you relied on his or her income to support your lifestyle. If your loved one was the sole earner in the family, or even the breadwinner, you may find yourself struggling to pay your monthly bills. A wrongful death action may be able to compensate you for the lost income you had come to rely on.
- Loss of the Relationship with Your Loved One: Funeral expenses, hospital bills, and lost wages straightforward to quantify and present in a lawsuit. It is more difficult to evaluate the loss of love, support, and companionship you shared with your loved one, however. A wrongful death action takes these losses into account, though, and can provide compensation for the relationship you lost.
We're Here to Help You Seek Justice
Unfortunately, the pain of losing a loved one doesn't always end at emotional heartache. If you are mourning the loss of the death of a loved one in Washington or Oregon due to the negligent or reckless actions of another person, you may find yourself in a financial bind. If this is the case, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit.
Don't entrust your case to just anyone. Let our team of attorneys with years of experience in wrongful death lawsuits help you obtain a just recovery. To speak with an attorney about your loved one's death and learn more about wrongful death actions, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (360) 695-6244 today.