Seattle Infant Wrongful Death Attorneys
Filing a Claim for Infant Wrongful Death in Washington is Difficult but Necessary
It is hard to know what to say to a grieving parent. Losing a child, especially at the time of birth, a time that's supposed to be one of the most celebrated of their lives, is every parent’s worst nightmare. And when tragedy strikes and parents find themselves in this situation, the grief is often so great that filing a claim for compensation often doesn't even cross their minds. While no amount of money can bring a child back, filing a wrongful death claim can help offset the expense of medical and funeral bills, and help prevent the same tragedy from occurring to anyone else. Often, the desire to help spare another family from the injustice of a child's death is the only motivation for a parent seeking legal help.
What is Wrongful Death in Washington, and Who Can Sue?
In the State of Washington, wrongful death is defined as "the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another." The statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits is generally 3 years from the date of the death.
The Code of Washington, (including RCW 4.16.080) has been interpreted to include special rules for wrongful death claims that involve the death of a child under the age of 18. If the parents are divorced, separated, or have never been married and are no longer together, when one parent decides to file a wrongful death claim, they must serve the other parent with a copy of the complaint within 20 days of filing the case with the State of Washington.
Filing an infant wrongful death lawsuit is complicated at best, and when there are separate issues between the parents it can become even more complicated. Be sure to find the best Seattle personal injury lawyer to help you through it from the very beginning.
Proving Infant Wrongful Death
Infant wrongful death lawsuits do have certain criteria that must be met before the case proceeds. The plaintiff, or person accusing another of wrongdoing resulting in an infant's death, must prove the following three things:
- That the defendant, or person being accused, was responsible for proper medical care of the baby. While this often includes the doctor, it can also include nursing staff or other hospital staff that are present at the time.
- That the duty of care was breached when the defendant made a medical mistake, and that the child died as a result.
- That it was in fact the mistake that caused the wrongful death. For example, the doctor may have made a mistake at the time of birth, but if that mistake had nothing to do with the death, there is no foundation for a claim.
Recovering Damages in Infant Wrongful Death Cases
In other personal injury and wrongful death cases, damages would typically be divided into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that can have an actual dollar amount attached to them, while non-economic damages provide compensation for damages that do not have an actual dollar value. This is true for infant wrongful death cases as well, but there is a difference.
Sometimes economic damages can outweigh other damages in cases simply because they include things like medical bills, and loss of current and future income. However, infants have no income and while there may be medical bills for the labor and delivery, they may not be as high as other bills that include things such as extended stays, etc. So while economic damages may be awarded, it's not rare for them to be smaller in comparison to non-economic damages awarded in infant wrongful death cases.
In infant wrongful death cases, non-economic damages can be substantial, as they are meant to compensate for the grief and mourning of the parents, as well as the emotional distress caused to the rest of the family. If the case goes to court and the judge finds that the doctor or medical staff was grossly negligent, they may also award punitive damages, which are meant to punish the person at-fault and are determined by the judge.
Call the Experienced Seattle Birth Injury Attorneys
There's nothing more devastating in life than losing a child at the moment they're supposed to be born and begin their life. The grief can be so overwhelming that at first you're not concerned with who was at fault; or you may be so angry that you want the at-fault party or parties to be held responsible. In either case, it's important that you file your infant wrongful death claim quickly in the State of Washington, and that you have the right people fighting hard and working for you. At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., that's us. Call us toll-free today at (888) 228-3860 to speak with one of our live representatives. We know how difficult this time is for you, and our Seattle birth injury attorneys want to help.