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Washington Legislature Passes New Wrongful Death Law

November 9, 2020 • by Wiener & Lambka

Under current Washington State law parents can bring wrongful death claims for the wrongful death of their unmarried adult son or daughter only if they are financially dependent on their child. This law prevented most families from being able to bring claims for the death of their children as a result of third-party negligence. However, after a push from numerous families and many legislatures that law is changing.

Under the new law recently signed by Governor Inslee, parents or legal guardians can bring claims for the wrongful death of their unmarried adult son or daughter — 18 years or older — if they had “significant involvement” in their life. That includes “either giving or receiving emotional, psychological support to or from the child.”  This means it will apply to all cases filed on or after the effective date as well as any cases currently pending in any court of law at any level.

This law was supported by legislators on both sides of the aisle. Those opposed to the bill were worried that hospitals and county governments could have to pay the entire amount in a wrongful-death lawsuit even if they were only 1 percent at fault due to Washington State’s “Joint and Several Liability” law. However, 61 of the House’s 98 representatives voted in favor of it.


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