Skip to main content
Wrongful death attorney

What is a Wrongful Death Attorney?

Wrongful death attorneys deal with cases concerning a loss of life resulting from another party’s negligent behavior. Fatal injures may be sustained in truck accidents or car accidents, on the job, or even caused by medical malpractice. If you have lost a loved one due to the actions or inaction of another party, call The Hornbuckle Firm’s wrongful death attorneys today. We’re happy to offer a free consultation.

Do I Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer or a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Personal injury cases involve bodily injury and quantifiable harm. Wrongful death cases are a specific subset of personal injury cases. They are carried out by a survivor representing the estate of the deceased person. This survivor is usually a domestic partner, child, stepchild, parent, or sibling of the deceased.

Wrongful Death

  • Subset of personal injury
  • A death due to a wrongful action
  • Certain types of survivors can sue
  • Survival actions can also be brought

Personal Injury

  • Also includes slip and fall cases
  • Physical or mental injury is personal injury
  • Can get compensation for suffering, lost wages, other injuries

Most wrongful death actions also include survival claims.  A person’s damages for physical injury survive the death. Your wrongful death lawyer may also recommend that you bring a survival action when pursuing a case for wrongful death.

What is a Survival Action?

A survival action is another type of claim that is often brought in connection with a wrongful death case. Similar to wrongful death lawsuits, survival actions are subsets of personal injury lawsuits. Survival actions ensure that if a deceased person suffers damages before their death, survivors can bring that claim for the damages that their loved one suffered prior to death.

For example, let’s say someone sustained a leg injury as a result of negligence and weeks later died of the wound. Their survivors could bring claims for both wrongful death and survival damages. A survival action brings claims for injury that a deceased person would have been able to bring if they were still alive.

It’s also important to note that in survival actions, the damages are not part of the decedent’s estate but are award to the statutory beneficiaries.  The claim is brought by the personal representative of the estate but is largely not a part of the estate.

Specific Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death lawyers deal with many different sorts of negligent conduct and some cases are easier to prove than others. Because of this, it’s essential to consider the context of your specific case. The context in which a wrongful death took place has drastic effects on trial preparation, settlement, and the final verdict.

Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death

Medical malpractice is a common type of lawsuit brought based on a breach of the standard of care causing injury or death. Notably, it is much harder to prove negligence in a medical malpractice context than it is to prove ordinary negligence. This can make the job of medical malpractice lawyers particularly difficult.

If you want to prove negligence in a medical malpractice context in Washington State, you must prove that:

1)       The healthcare provider in question had a legal duty to you as a patient

2)       The healthcare provider did not fulfill their legal duty. In other words, they violated the “standard of care”  (the chosen treatment or lack of treatment was not reasonable)

3)       The failure to fulfill the duty to you caused you legally compensable harm

The burden of proof is higher in medical negligence cases, and they can be difficult to win. With strong evidence and an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, however, medical malpractice case provide compensation and deter medical negligence.

Nursing home wrongful death attorney

Nursing Home Neglect Wrongful Death

Washington state has a statue in place to facilitate nursing home neglect lawsuits. The Washington Vulnerable Adult Act is a powerful part of the law that will be a significant advantage if it applies to your case.

What can make someone a vulnerable adult?

  • 60+ and unable to care for themselves; or
  • Receiving care from a facility such as a nursing home
  • More

When nursing homes are sued by a vulnerable adult, a claim for neglect is often brought. The Vulnerable Adult Statute (VAS) allows for recovery of attorney fees and expenses if neglect is proven, which often makes nursing home suits easier to win than others. Neglect is defined as acting or failing to act in such a way that creates a clear and present danger to the patients mental or physical health. Read more here.

Neglect is a common ground for a nursing home wrongful death lawsuit, but the VAS outlines other possible grounds such as:

  • Abandonment
  • Abuse
  • Financial Exploitation

But what if I’m not a vulnerable adult? Can I still sue?

Yes! If the vulnerable adult statute doesn’t apply, you can still sue after a wrongful death. This is often done by suing for negligence. The VAS makes nursing home lawsuits easier by allowing people to sue for neglect but negligence suits are also viable.

If you’re planning to sue for ordinary negligence, you’ll need to prove that someone failed to exercise the care expected of a reasonable person in the given circumstance. If you’re interested in suing a nursing home for negligence or neglect, contact the experienced wrongful death lawyers at The Hornbuckle Firm.

Punitive Damages vs. Compensatory Damages

Two types of damages awarded in lawsuits are punitive damages and compensatory damages.

Punitive damages are damages awarded to punish outrageous conduct and deter others from replicating it. These are usually not recoverable in Washington state.

Compensatory damages are awarded in order to compensate a victim. This compensation can be for lost income, pain and suffering, or many other varieties of injury. They are a common form of damages to receive in Washington state.


Losing a loved one in an accident is one of the most difficult things a family can face. In addition to your personal loss, there will be the added stress of potential financial struggles. When you lose a loved one, you deserve time to grieve.

The wrongful death attorneys at The Hornbuckle Firm have decades of experience helping families in Washington during these difficult times. Our lawyers will fight aggressively to make sure your rights are protected while providing you with the compassionate representation necessary as you mourn your loss.


Our Attorneys

Recoverable Damages

In a wrongful death lawsuit, our attorneys will seek to recover damages which may include:

  • End of life medical treatment
  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost future income
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of benefits
  • Mental pain and anguish
  • Loss of companionship, support, and care

Seeking proper compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit requires the navigation of complex state and federal laws. In many instances, an investigation will be necessary to identify all instances of negligence and ensure liability is properly placed. Our attorneys know exactly what needs to be established in these cases to ensure proper compensation to surviving family members. We are prepared to fight tirelessly for your family to help make sure you are taken care of well into the future.

Eligible Petitioners

Those eligible to seek damages in a wrongful death lawsuit differ from state to state. In Washington, you may file a wrongful death lawsuit if you are a representative of the deceased’s estate. This may include:

  • Spouses and domestic partners
  • Children, step-children, and adopted children
  • Parents, step-parents, and legal guardians
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Siblings

During your initial consultation, one of our wrongful death lawyers can assess your claim and help you determine if you are entitled to seek compensation through a lawsuit.

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another, please call (425) 679-0742 The Hornbuckle Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our wrongful death attorneys. The firm serves clients from Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue and surrounding areas. We have litigated cases in Washington, Tennessee, and Texas. We accept cases from all states across the country.


the initial consultation is free

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Please call (425) 679-0742 or contact The Hornbuckle Firm today to schedule your free nursing home abuse and neglect consultation. The firm has litigated cases in Washington, Tennessee, and Texas. We accept cases from all states across the country.


Jury Verdict


Jury Verdict


Jury Verdict


Jury Verdict


Hospital Malpractice



Stephen Hornbuckle and Jacey Liu


He appears to be committed to his clients and ably represents them, even when he is at risk of not getting compensated for his time and effort due to difficulties in the case.

Fellow Attorney

Stephen is an excellent lawyer. I received one of my highest jury verdicts with him as my co-counsel. I am very impressed with his abilities.

Fellow Attorney

Highly competent attorney & law firm.

A Judge

I've known Stephen since law school. He is a powerful thinker and excellent attorney.

Government Counsel

Practice Areas

Close Menu