Wrongful Death Action?

A wrongful death action is an action brought by the personal representative of the estate of someone who dies because of another’s wrongful act or neglect. RCW 4.20.010.


This action may be brought on behalf of the surviving spouse or domestic partner, or children of the deceased. If there is no spouse, domestic partner, or child, then the action may be brought on behalf of the deceased’s parents or siblings. RCW 4.20.020.


Damages recoverable under RCW 4.20.010 may include medical expenses incurred, costs of burial and memorial services, the monetary contributions the deceased would have made to the beneficiaries of the action, and other non-economic losses, such as the beneficiary’s loss of the deceased’s support, services, love, affection, care, and companionship.

Special Survival Claim

The deceased’s pain and suffering before death cannot be recovered in a wrongul death action, because recovery under this statute is for the losses the beneficiaries suffer as a result of the deceased’s death. However, Washington’s special survival statute, RCW 4.20.060, allows recovery for the recovery of pre-death non-economic damages where the deceased’s personal injuries result in death. A survival action is brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate on behalf of the same beneficiaries as are required to prosecute a wrongful death action.