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Wisconsin native killed in Seattle boating accident – Is it a Wrongful Death Case?

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2014 | Wrongful Death |

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On Wednesday night a 33-year-old schoolteacher originally from Manitowoc, Wisconsin was killed in a boating accident.

Melissa Protz was one of seven people on a sailboat that was broadsided by a powerboat. Two other people on the sailboat were injured.

The powerboat was being operated by a 46-year-old man, who is currently in police custody and will possibly be charged with vehicular homicide.

So is there a claim for wrongful death resulting from this tragic accident?

In order to bring a successful wrongful death claim, the following elements must be proven:

1. The death of a human being; 2. Caused by another’s negligence (failure to use reasonable care); 3. Remaining family members are suffering some monetary injury as a result of the death, and; 4. A personal representative for the estate has been appointed.

The key element in a case like this is negligence. Was the operator of the powerboat drinking? Was he acting carelessly? Was he going too fast or operating where he shouldn’t have been? Ultimately, this is a question for a jury, but based on the preliminary information it seems very likely that he was negligent in causing the terrible accident.

While the damages in a wrongful death claim are primarily financial, a claim may also be brought on behalf of the deceased person herself. This is called a survival claim because the action survives even after the claimant is deceased.

In a survival action, the personal representative may make a recovery for the pain and suffering and the apprehension of death experienced prior to the death.

The loss of a family member is always devastating, and a legal claim may be the last thing on the family’s mind, but eventually, this is something that every family may consider following the loss of a loved one.

In Washington, wrongful death and survival claims are very complicated and require the services of an experienced wrongful death attorney.

If you have more questions about wrongful death, survival claims, or any other matter related to personal injury, check out our website or give us a call. We’ve been handling these cases for more than 15 years and we can answer your questions.

To read more about this incident, click here.


Turns out there may have been alcohol involved. According to witnesses, the operator of the powerboat, Richard Anthony Hicks, was going at very high speed after dark near Leschi.

It the preliminary reports are accurate, it certainly seems that the case for liability is strong.

For more information, click here