Can you request punitive damages in a wrongful death claim?

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2023 | Wrongful Death |

For some families affected by a car crash, a product failure or a similar situation that results in someone’s death, a civil lawsuit is the only road to justice. There may not be adequate evidence for the state to prosecute the responsible party for criminal activity, or the situation may not have technically violated Washington’s criminal code.

A wrongful death lawsuit allows people to ask the civil courts to hold an individual or business responsible for the death of another person by imposing financial consequences. Those seeking financial support through a wrongful death claim will usually need evidence of defaults, wrongful acts or neglect.

They also have to request specific compensation based on the financial impact that the loss will have on their families. People frequently focus on lost wages and lost household services when calculating the amount to request in a wrongful death lawsuit. Are you able to request punitive damages to augment the verifiable losses your family suffered?

Washington does not award punitive damages

The purpose of punitive damages is to create financial penalties for misconduct or negligence. In a situation where someone dies because of obvious negligence or illegal activity, grieving family members in many states can ask for punitive damages to increase the compensation they receive. The damages serve to punish the business or individual who is to blame for the recent death.

However, Washington is one of the few states that will not award punitive damages in personal injury claims, including wrongful death lawsuits. You will not be able to ask the courts to award you more money as a punishment to the other party. Instead, you may have to review your claim very closely to maximize the losses that you can seek from the other party.

A wrongful death lawsuit can still give you justice

Pursuing compensation for economic losses can amount to a substantial award for your family in a successful wrongful death claim. The more successful and helpful your loved one was, the easier it will be for you to maximize the compensation that you request in your claim.

Learning more about the rules that apply to wrongful death lawsuits in Washington will help your family follow the best path toward justice.