The world around us is beautiful in many ways, and we have the right to live our lives to the fullest. While that may be the case, it doesn’t mean that the world isn’t also a dangerous place. Whether it’s due to someone’s negligence when they were changing lanes, handling heavy equipment, or mopping up a wet spot in your local grocery store, unknown risks can present themselves at any time. While we all believe that serious accidents won’t happen to us, they happen to people every day. Sometimes, these risks leave people with severe injuries, and sometimes there’s a tragic loss of life. When this happens, it is important that you seek out the correct lawyer for your situation to take the proper legal action.
When you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, and you are left with the cost of your pain, suffering, hospital bills, and damages, it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer. An skilled and experienced attorney will ensure that you are compensated for all that you have suffered due to someone else’s neglect or abuse.
What is a personal injury lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is a type of civil action that allows plaintiffs (the inured people) to seek redress from defendants (the people who injured them) for their losses. Severe injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or burn injuries generally take a long time to heal, and can cause lasting damage to your body, as well as your mental and emotional state. The cost to treat these injuries, both physical and mental, can be egregious, and you should not have to pay for that yourself. It is your right to seek compensation from the at-fault party.
What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
If a loved one has been killed in an accident due to someone’s negligence or abuse, the family or loved ones of that person can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits are a type of personal injury lawsuit, in that someone has suffered harm (the deceased, as well as his or her loved ones), and that person can seek compensation for the losses. A wrongful death lawsuit can compensate both the loved ones and the estate of the person who died for damages, including medical costs, funeral costs, and emotional injury.
When a loved one dies, you can file two types of claims:
- Wrongful death action. This is the claim brought on behalf of the family and/or loved ones. It is designed to address their injuries and losses associated with the death.
- Survival action. This is the claim filed on behalf of the victim’s estate. Basically, it seeks compensation for the damages the decedent would have sought if he or she lived.
The thing about wrongful death claims is that the victim cannot speak for him or herself. Washington State has rules in place about what can be said during a trial, because there’s no way to ask the victim.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Vancouver, WA?
Typically, you have up to three years to file either a personal injury lawsuit OR a wrongful death/survival action, but there are always exceptions. For example, in a personal injury claim, when the victim is a child, the statute of limitations can be tolled, meaning the clock doesn’t start running right away. And if the defendant is a government employee or agency, the statute of limitations can be even shorter.
This is one of the many reasons it is important to have a lawyer on your side, to ensure that your lawsuit is filed in as timely a manner as possible.
What kinds of damages can you seek in an injury or wrongful death claim?
The damages for which you can seek compensation in each lawsuit also varies. In a personal injury case, the goal is to make the injured victim as whole as possible. So, you can seek:
- All reasonable medical expenses, both current and expected
- Any lost income, including disability income
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Mental and emotional distress
- Compensation for scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of society
According to RCW 4.20.060, damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can include:
- Any medical and hospital bills
- Any property damage
- The funeral expenses
- The “pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, or humiliation personal to and suffered by the deceased”
Being injured or suffering the loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence is not something that the victim(s) should have to pay for more than they already have. While the goals of both a personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit are to compensate those who have been injured or those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, there are some differences that you should know about before looking for the best lawyer for your needs.
At Philbrook Law Office, we are experienced in personal injury and wrongful death cases. We will work to ensure that you secure fair and just compensation for the damage that has been done to you and your family. To schedule an appointment, call us at 360-695-3309 or use our contact form. We proudly serve the communities of Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA. We want to help you to become whole again.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.