If you’ve recently lost someone, it can be hard to read about the details of wrongful death claims. Please know that you can speak with us directly at 206-826-8200.
– Attorney Kevin Coluccio
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Our civil justice system in the U.S. recognizes this. Outside of criminal charges, the only way the law deals with a death that should not have happened is by allowing the surviving family to make a claim for “wrongful death.”
We cannot undo the tragedy. The only thing we can do is to provide the remaining family with monetary compensation through a wrongful death claim.
What is a wrongful death?
“Wrongful death” is the legal term for an unnatural death, resulting from an injury or incident, caused by the bad conduct of another person or a company.
It does not mean that there was necessarily any intent to kill the victim.
- A car or truck crash;*
- Being hit by a motor vehicle;
- Medical negligence or misdiagnosis;
- A fatal injury at work;
- Government liability or negligence;
- A failed product, or piece of equipment; or
- An intentional death.
* Most “car accidents” aren’t accidents: they are predictable result of bad driving decisions, poor road design, or unsafe vehicles. We say “crash” instead of “accident”.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
A claim for wrongful death is a civil—not criminal—action.
Generally, the next-of-kin, or the closest family member to the deceased, files the wrongful death claim. This may be a spouse, parent, child, or sibling; it is usually the same person who would open an Estate on behalf of the family.
Filing a claim for a fatality is complicated. It may require an investigation, and hiring expert witnesses.
Our job is to help our clients navigate this process, and make it as painless as possible.
Who pays for a wrongful death claim?
The person or company that caused the injury that led to death is responsible for compensating the family for the loss.
There are likely several insurance policies that will need to be located and reviewed. Part of the job of a wrongful death lawyer is to investigate and access that insurance coverage.
You should know that wrongful death claims are subject to a “statute of limitations.” There is a limited amount of time to file a claim with the insurance companies, or file a lawsuit in state or federal court.
It is best to talk to an experienced wrongful death lawyer about your options so you can make an informed decision.
“Kevin is not only extremely professional and knowledgeable, he is compassionate …
I highly recommend Kevin and I am grateful that he has represented our family. …”
– A client of wrongful death lawyer Kevin Coluccio
Talk to an experienced wrongful death lawyer
Kevin Coluccio has helped surviving families for more than three decades. He is thoughtful, compassionate and devoted to his clients.
Case results from wrongful death lawyer Kevin Coluccio
Case: Estate of “Smith” v. Rockeries, Inc
Result: $2,940,000, plus fees and costs.
“Ms. Smith”, a 46-year-old woman, was driving home after going to a local store to pick up supplies for a weekend dinner with her husband. As she passed through an intersection, a dump truck trailer smashed into her car, causing fatal injuries.
Mr. Smith came home after work to find a note from a police officer on his front door. After learning of the tragedy, he was able to get to the hospital to say goodbye to his wife just prior to her death.
The trailer, loaded with rockery boulders, broke free from the dump truck because the driver hadn’t properly latched it. When the truck got to the top of a hill, the trailer broke free, traveled down a road and crashed into Ms. Smiths’ car.
The safety braking system should have locked the brakes on the trailer. But it hadn’t been properly maintained: the safety brakes failed.
The trucking company denied insurance coverage after the plaintiffs filed a claim. The defendants asked the court to dismiss the case. The court granted the defendants’ dismissal. The plaintiffs were forced to file an appeal. After a lengthy appeal process, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Smith.
Wrongful death lawyer Kevin Coluccio earned the Smith family the insurance policy limits, as well as fees and costs, providing the maximum recovery possible.
Case: Estate of “Jane Doe” v. State of Washington
After returning from a flight, a long-time fight attendant went for a run in the wooded park area near her home. When “Jane” did not return, her family went looking for her and eventually called the police.
Tragically, Jane had been killed by a released level 3 sex offender. He was out on parole, and supposed to be carefully monitored by the Washington State Department of Corrections.
After he killed Jane, the offender left the area and traveled across the country. While at a rest stop, he attacked a second woman and left her for dead. A passing nurse just happened to find her at the rest stop, and saved her life.
Attorney Kevin Coluccio worked extensively get to the facts of the offender’s parole.
Both attacks were preventable. The offender had been violating his parole for a long time. The State should have taken actions to protect the public—and in particular, protect these women.
The wrongful death lawyers were able to show that the Washington State Department of Corrections was negligent in the supervision of this dangerous parolee.
In addition to the $4.4 million wrongful death result for Jane’s family, Kevin Coluccio settled the second woman’s injury claim for another $4.4 million.