The loss of a loved one is always devastating, but when you lose a loved one unexpectedly, and because of another’s negligence, it can also be confusing, frightening, and financially disastrous. An unexpected death can leave the survivors scrambling to try and get the decedent’s affairs in order, and when a death is unexpected, often little or nothing has been done to prepare for the care of the surviving family members.
While monetary compensation can never replace a loved one, this is the remedy the law provides for when your loved one’s death results from another’s negligence.
Wrongful Death Claims Vs. Survival Actions
A wrongful death claim is brought on behalf of the surviving family members of the decedent and is intended to compensate them for the grief and financial losses they suffered as a result of the decedent's death. A survival action, on the other hand, is a claim for injuries and damages that the decedent suffered prior to death and would have been able to recover on their own behalf had they lived. Colloquially, the two types of claims/actions are often lumped together and simply referred to as a wrongful death claim.
Washington adopted the survival statutes in order to correct an unjust irregularity of the old common law which would prevent any recovery for injuries and/or damages the decedent suffered if they did not survive.