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Who can benefit from a wrongful death action in Washington?

When a person is involved in a motor vehicle accident, there is always the possibility of serious injuries. While cars and trucks have a lot of safety features, they cannot prevent against every possible scenario. Unfortunately, many accidents result in fatalities. This leaves Washington families trying to pick up the pieces after their loved one unexpectedly passes away.

In these cases, people may be shocked to learn that the negligence of another person caused the accident that killed their family member or friend. People may want to take legal action against the negligent driver to recover costs associated with the accident and the person's death. They may also feel that such an action is necessary to hold the other driver accountable for that person's actions. A wrongful death suit is generally the most appropriate course of action when a person is killed by the negligence of another.

However, some people may wonder -- who can benefit from a wrongful death suit? According to RCW section 4.20.020, only certain people can obtain compensation in a wrongful death suit. Under that statute, only the person's spouse, child or registered domestic partner can benefit from a suit. In this case, a spouse includes either a husband or a wife, and a child includes a step-child.

If the person does not have a child, spouse or registered domestic partner, a sibling or parent may also become a beneficiary in a wrongful death suit. However, a sibling or parent must be dependent on the person that died and live in the U.S. in order to qualify for compensation.

This article is meant only to be informative and not to give specific legal advice about who can file a wrongful death suit in a particular case. An attorney can help people who have lost a loved one determine if a wrongful death suit could help them obtain compensation for their loss.

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