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Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC

Siblings in Washington State Have Big Hurdle to Jump in Bringing a Wrongful Death Claim.

The Washington Supreme Court in a recent ruling has reinforced a Washington Wrongful Death Law regarding when siblings can bring wrongful death claims for the loss of their brothers or sisters.  Under Washington law siblings are secondary beneficiaries of the deceased person.  That means they must have been financially dependant on their deceased brother/sister to have a valid wrongful death claim.

Financial dependency is a high burden to prove for siblings and generally a rare state of sibling relationships.  This is especially true for siblings who are still children.  

The adoptive siblings of a 7 year-old boy who died as a result of starvation by his adoptive mother brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctors that treated the boy prior to his death and DSHS.  The adopted mother was sentenced to six years in prison.  DSHS settled the boy's case as part of a 6 million dollar settlement that also involved other abused children under DSHS supervision.   

The adoptive children's attorney argued that they were financially dependent on the 7 year-old boy because of the monthly payment of $717 DSHS given to his adoptive mother by DSHS.  The court ruled that "DSHS provided separate payments to Carole DeLeon (adoptive mother) to supplement her support of other children in her home."  In essence the court decision has maintained a high hurdle for siblings to jump over in order to establish an independent wrongful death claim. 

Washington wrongful death claims are complicated legal matters best handled by an experienced Washington wrongful death lawyer.  If your family has lost a loved one due to another person fault and you don't know where to begin call Scott McDonald And Associates, 425-822-5700, to learn what your full legal rights are in a no cost consultation.