Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

Call for a free consultation (206) 340-2008

What Happens to Personal Injury Proceeds if the Plaintiff Dies?

Posted Friday, January 22, 2021 by Chris Thayer

Maybe one of the more common questions that people ask about personal injury cases - especially serious or catastrophic ones - is what will happen to the funds if they die. Sometimes the question comes from adult children or other relatives. Other times, the injured person will ask, worried that there will be nothing left for their heirs. Fortunately, there is an easy answer that typically sets people at ease when they hear it. Local Seattle personal injury lawyers are often able to secure settlements and verdicts on behalf of the deceased victim, even long after they pass away.

*Washington’s Survival Act*Under Washington law, there is a statute known as the Survival Act, found at RCW 4.20.046, which allows legal actions to “survive” a deceased victim. It works by preserving the right of a victim to pursue an action even after death. But because dead people cannot legally sue, a personal representative must bring a lawsuit on behalf of the estate and heirs.

*Why Allow Lawsuits After Death?*Some may find it odd that an estate can sue for injuries to someone who has already died, but there are a couple reasons.

*Who Gets the Money?*Whether the injury causes the death or not, the funds recovered will pass to the decedent’s heirs. Most of the time, this means the funds are distributed to the immediate family or as otherwise stated in a will. In some situations, heirs may have disputes about how money should be distributed, but fortunately, Washington State has a statute that applies.

Under RCW 11.04.015, the state has created a hierarchy of inheritance rules, which applies when there is no will. Under this statute, there is a clear “pecking order” that explains who gets what and in which circumstances.

*Get Help Early*It is very wise to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as early as possible because the sooner an attorney is involved, the sooner you can protect your right to pursue compensation. Call Pivotal Law Group today, and schedule your free case evaluation. There is no risk and no obligation, so call now.