Death from a Seattle Car Accident: What You Should Know from Fatal Auto Accident Lawyers

The death of a loved one in an automobile accident is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through. The situation can be even tougher if the accident was someone else’s fault. Some survivors are uncomfortable thinking about money and lawsuits at a time like this. However, when you’re in this situation, you’re entitled to compensation, not only for final expenses and lost income but also for the loss of love and companionship. That’s why it makes sense to engage a Seattle car accident lawyer.

Insurance companies will sometimes take advantage of mourners by offering a lowball settlement. You deserve more. It’s important to understand the facts about a fatal Washington accident.

How Common are Fatal Car Accidents in Seattle?

There’s been little progress in reducing collisions and fatalities through the Seattle traffic project Vision Zero, which has a goal of eliminating traffic fatalities by 2030. But the number of traffic deaths has remained fairly consistent and even increased in 2020 and 2021  (including pedestrians), since 2010. 

It may not be a big number in a city with over 700,000 residents and many more visitors. However, if one of those involved is your loved one, it doesn’t really matter how big or how small the number is.

What is Wrongful Death?

In the state of Washington, wrongful death is a death caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another. Examples are death due to medical malpractice and fatalities occurring during the commission of a crime. Another example is the death caused when someone is responsible for an automobile accident.

A driver doesn’t have to be actively committing a violation – for example, speeding, running a red light, driving recklessly, or driving while intoxicated – to be liable for wrongful death. Simple acts of negligence such as driving inattentively or not keeping a vehicle in proper repair can be enough.

A wrongful death claim bears some similarities to a personal injury claim. The big difference, of course, is that the person who was wronged is no longer alive to make the claim. Someone else must play the role of the plaintiff.

Examples of Driver Negligence

Every vehicle operator has an obligation to obey the letter of the law. However, a driver’s responsibility does not stop there. A person in control of a large, dangerous object such as a car or truck has a duty to be attentive at all times.

Common examples of driver negligence are:

  • Speeding, not only violating the posted limit but also driving too fast for road conditions.
  • Failure to obey road signals such as stoplights, stop signs, and yield signs.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or dangerous medications.
  • Driving while distracted by cell phones, electronic devices, or fellow passengers.
  • Driving while fatigued.
  • Operating a vehicle with defective brakes, tires, or other critical safety components.

Who Can File a Claim After a Deadly Crash?

Since the victim of a fatal accident can no longer file a claim, someone else must step in and do so on their behalf. In many states, the surviving family members are the ones who have the standing to hire fatal auto accident lawyers and file a wrongful death lawsuit.

In Washington, however, the personal representative (aka the executor) of the deceased’s estate must be the one to bring forward the wrongful death claim. If the deceased person has a will, it’s likely that they will have named the personal representative there. If the person does not have a will, or if the personal representative cannot or will not serve, a court may appoint someone to bring the lawsuit.

The personal representative files the suit, but, if damages are awarded, they go to the deceased person’s survivors. Unless the personal representative is also one of these, they will not be awarded any damages.

In most cases, parents can employ a Washington car accident lawyer and file a wrongful death suit on behalf of a deceased child. Parents and legal guardians can file a suit or join the action if they regularly contributed to the support of a child under 18.

Recovering Damages in Your Fatal Accident Claim

One way to recover damages is to file a claim with the driver’s insurance company. However, in many cases, that’s going to result in your being offered less than you’re entitled to. Often insurance companies are more interested in protecting their bottom line than in making sure you have a full and fair settlement. If you’re not represented by fatal auto accident lawyers, an insurance company representative may show up at your door with what might seem to be a large check. They’ll offer to pay you that sum if you release them from any further liability.

However, when you stop and think of all you’ve lost, an initial insurance company offer may be woefully inadequate. Under Washington law, you’re entitled to compensation for:

  • Final medical bills.
  • Funeral expenses.
  • Loss of financial support that you would have received had your loved one lived.
  • Loss of household services the person would have contributed.
  • Loss of love, affection, companionship, care, and training.

The best way to ensure you get all you’re entitled to is to engage a Washington car accident attorney. A Seattle car accident lawyer will investigate the accident, interview witnesses and build a strong case from which to negotiate with the insurance company. Washington accident law can change at any time, and a good Washington car accident lawyer is armed with the latest knowledge.

How Does Fault Work in Washington?

Washington is a comparative negligence state. That means that if you’re found to be partly at fault, your award will be reduced. What does that mean to you? It means that many insurance companies will look for any act of negligence on your part, large or small, real or exaggerated, that they can point to. If your case goes to trial, and the insurance company can convince the jury that you’re at least somewhat at fault.

That’s why you need a Washington car accident attorney to work on your behalf. The stronger a case they can build, the more likely that the insurance company will settle out of court and will do so on your terms rather than on theirs.

How Craig Swapp & Associates Can Help

Nothing can bring your loved one back, but you don’t have to carry on in life without being properly compensated for your loss. The loss of a family member is a stressful time, and there’s no reason to add to the stress by fighting the battle with an insurance company on your own.

Craig Swapp & Associates are the Washington accident attorneys that will do the hard work of investigating and negotiating so that you can concentrate on rebuilding a life without the person you miss so much. We’ll review every detail of your accident and put together a powerful case, one created to require the driver’s insurance company to pay you everything you have coming.

With the right Washington accident attorneys on your side, you don’t have to settle for less than what this death is truly costing you. If you’ve lost a loved one to a car accident, put Craig Swapp & Associates to work for you.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp