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The litigation process is particularly hard on wrongful death claimants

Posted Thursday, April 5, 2018 by Tyler Goldberg-Hoss

Hopefully, if you are reading this, you have never contemplated bring a lawsuit alleging that some person or entity wrongfully caused a loved one to die.

For those unlucky few who have and have not yet decided, it is worth a detailed discussion with your prospective attorney about how the process may negatively impact you.

Wrongful death litigation is not a particularly fun endeavor. For starters, the reason you are in such a position is because you have lost someone close to you; a spouse, a parent, maybe even a child. Not only that, the death often times is unexpected, adding another layer of feelings to process.

Through litigation, claimants can feel victimized all over again. The discovery process includes both written questions and often a deposition, where you are compelled to attend, swear before a court reporter to tell the truth, and then you are interrogated about the decedent, your relationship with him or her, and other areas of inquiry. Often such questions can involve delicate or sensitive matters. All of this can be difficult emotionally.

You may learn through the process that the defendants are blaming your loved one – or maybe even you – for causing the death.

Through it all, you are constantly reminded of your loss. It is perhaps primarily because of this that many wrongful death claimants have found that their process of grieving became stunted until the litigation was over.

Finally, claims are not always successful. You could slog through all of the above, and at the end of the trial, you end up with nothing.

Still, most of my wrongful death claimants have also told me, regardless of the outcome, that they were glad to have done it. Bringing a civil lawsuit does not bring a person back to life, but it is one of the few ways we as a society have figured out to hold someone accountable if a jury has decided he or she is responsible for a death.

Although often the focus of the result of a lawsuit – money – is on the family being compensated, don’t forget that the money serves a dual function - compensating the decedent’s family while simultaneously creating a deterrent effect on future negligent conduct. It is always my hope that, through this process, we as a society are safer.

Chemnick | Moen | Greenstreet
115 NE 100th St #220, Seattle, WA 98125 US
Phone: 206-443-8600
Fax: 206-443-6904