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Wrongful Death

Coping with the loss of a loved one is an experience is sometimes an impossible task. When your family member’s death resulted from another party’s negligence or wrongdoing, the grief only intensifies. In many instances, you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Nothing can make up for the void of a human life lost. But financial compensation allows the family to bring closure if the amount approximates what the family believes it is entitled to.

How Wrongful Deaths Occur

Wrongful death occurs when a person is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another party. Those who were dependent on, or a beneficiary of, may be entitled to monetary damages. While states across America have passed wrongful death statutes in order to compel manufacturing companies, hospitals, and doctors to act carefully in their professional responsibilities, wrongful deaths do occur in situations such as:
  • Automobile Accidents and Bicycle Accidents — Automobile companies may be held responsible for defective products in their automobile, while trucking companies may be held accountable for truck accidents if their employee breaks trucking regulations.
  • Product Liability — A wrongful death may result because of a manufacturer’s or dealer’s negligence. Our attorneys have successfully tried cases against multinational companies, including Toyota, Hyundai, GM, etc.
  • Highway Safety and Government Liability The way a road is maintained or designed is often the responsibility of a government entity. Our Highway Safety attorneys are some of the most respected in the country. Few lawyers have the track record and experience of fighting a city or state as ours do.
  • Workplace Injury — A common cause of work-related deaths include accidents at a work site or a construction site. Every year contractors, roofers and construction workers fall victim to workplace accidents that lead to their death. The life of a worker may get tragically cut short because of a forklift accident, unexpected explosion of faulty equipment, falling objects, unsafe scaffolding and other equipment, etc. Other common occupations that have a high rate of work-related deaths include miners, fishermen, loggers, metal workers, electrical power installers, and truck drivers. Farming equipment also claims many lives every year in the United States.

Representative Cases

Otto v. The Boeing Company, Transdigm Group, Inc. and AmSafe, Inc.
Ken Otto was survived by his 16 year old son, Bostin Otto, after Ken sustained catastrophic injuries when working on a Boeing airplane.
Ride the Ducks Cases
The firm of Stritmatter Kessler represents the largest number of victims from the September 2015 Ride the Ducks crash on Aurora Bridge in Seattle. At last count*, our attorneys represent 20 Ride the Ducks victims. The cases involve claims of driver negligence, corporate negligence, product liability, vehicle crashworthiness, negligent highway design, and insurance coverage. It is complicated and will take years to litigate. The defendants include Ride the Ducks (RTD) Seattle, Ride the Ducks International, and T.H.E., their insurance company. The City of Seattle and the State of Washington are also defendants. These entities were legally responsible to maintain the Aurora Bridge in a reasonably safe condition. But they failed to adopt their own safety recommendations. *Last updated June 15, 2016.
Aurora Bridge victims vs State of WA & City of Seattle
SKW clients sustained serious injuries as the result of a Metro bus crashing into oncoming traffic on the Aurora Bridge. A Metro bus driver was shot, and the bus traveled across the Aurora Bridge and through the railing -- plunging to the ground. We deposed SDOT employees. From those depositions, we learned that the State and City has talked about installing a barrier for many years. At that time, we reviewed plans for adding a pedestrian walkway at a level just below the bridge, enabling the City to remove the sidewalk, and move the lanes over to accommodate the median barrier.
Cooper v. Ralph’s Concrete Pumping & Miles Sand & Gravel
Wrongful death of 30 year old worker, where compressed air hose tore loose and whipped Allan Cooper in the head. Tragedy left widow Teresa Cooper traumatized and in a deep depression.
Confidential v. National Grocery Company

(August 2011) a confidential wrongful death settlement of a 45-year-old man leaving a wife and two children, one of whom was a minor.  Plaintiff was struck by a yard truck at night at a distribution yard that had poor lighting and no designated path for pedestrians to cross from the parking area to the office.  The truck driver died several days later from his injuries.

McLaughlin v. City of Ocean Shores

(December 2008).  A $1,500,000 settlement for the family of an Ocean Shores Fire Department Captain who died as a result of injuries from drowning during a Surf Rescue Team training on personal watercraft (PWC).

Ip v. State of Washington and City of Renton

(July 2008) $1,000,000 settlement for the wrongful death of a 67 year old leaving a wife and two adult sons when he was hit in a dangerous pedestrian crossing.

Estate of Confidential Infant v. Confidential Hospital

(June 2011) Confidential settlement for death of infant with compromised heart condition from administration of 10 times the ordered dosage of medication.

Patient v. Confidential

(June 2011) $1,250,000 settlement for wrongful death of 63 year old killed in a Western Washington nursing home as a result of negligent treatment.

Girod v. Cedell

(December 2010) $1 million policy limits settlement for motor vehicle bicycle crash on SR 105 resulting in death of 31-year-old woman.

Granberg-Kiddle v. Kithome

(October 2010) $1,000,000 settlement for the drowning death of a 3-year old child being attended by a babysitter. Significant claims of comparative negligence involved.

Burton v. King County Fire District #40

(October 2010) $700,000 settlement and additional benefits over $344,000 in Labor and Industries benefits for a firefighter injured when an unrestrained hose burst during a drill, striking Plaintiff in the legs.  Total recovery was $1,044,000.

Caffery v. Brunner, et al.

(July 2009) $1,025,000 policy limits settlement with a trucking company and others for the wrongful death of a 47 year old husband and father who was killed when a semi-truck and trailer driver disregarded the dangers of a “brown-out” dust storm and ran into the deceased on I-90 while he was helping others in a disabled vehicle.

Samples v. Rockeries, Inc.

(January 2009) $2,940,000 judgment and settlement for wrongful death case by husband of 46 year old woman hit by runaway dump truck trailer.  Case included recovery of interest, attorney fees, and bad faith damages.

Estate of Lovejoy v. Confidential OB/GYN Physicians and clinic

(July 2008) confidential settlement for a fetal death when doctor failed to recognize or treat dangerous cord presentation and low amniotic fluid.

Stanton v. LeMay

(April 2008) $2,700,000 settlement for the deaths of two minor children who were passengers in a vehicle that rear-ended a recycling truck without proper under-ride protection guard that had stopped in the roadway.

Clauson v. Ashland, Inc.

(March 2008) Confidential settlement for a diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma for a housewife as a result of being contaminated by asbestos fibers at home because of the work exposure of her ex-husband.

Plaintiff v. Defendant

(April 2007) $3,700,000 settlement for death of a 46-year-old airline pilot husband father of two. Truck turned in front of his motorcycle.  Substantial comparative negligence issues.

Wade v. Pierce County

(December 2006) $1,250,000 settlement for death of a 12-year-old on a bicycle struck by a police vehicle.

Stromberg v. Wiles

(August 2005)  $1,000,000 policy limits settlement for the death of a 57-year-old woman pedestrian hit by a pickup exiting a Bellevue garage.  She is survived by her spouse and three adult children.

Steen v. Hospital

(September 2004). $4,687,704.21 settlement after entry of a judgment and appeal for death of a patient as a result of hospital negligence.

Legier v. Mason County

(1999) $1,750,000 settlement for failure to properly maintain roads.  Resulted in deaths of two children.

Kanning and Evans v. Thompson

(1997) $1,850,000 settlement for deaths of two workers who went down a manhole and were asphyxiated.

Owen v. State of Washington
State settles with Owen family for Hwy 2 tree fall for $10 million.
Kime v. City of Seattle
(2002) The Kime case is well known by Seattle residents who were around in the early 2000's. Young Kris Kime was trying to help an innocent victim, who was being attacked during the Mardi Gras riots of 2001, when he himself was then beaten to death. Despite Kris' friends pleas to the police, who stood nearby the beating, the officers complied with the Mayor's orders to do nothing. Suing the City was a way to hold it accountable for decisions that led to avoidable death and injuries.
Munich v. Skagit Emergency Communications Center, et al.
After Bill Munich called 911 twice, a successful entrepreneur, was gunned down by his drunken neighbor. The 911 dispatch operator had miscategorized Bill's call as Priority 2, so that the responding officer did not turn his sirens on or speed to Bill's rescue. His family received a $2.3 million settlement.
Santos v. [Confidential] Bar
David Santos lost his young son, when a drunk driver hit him on a well lit road. Terrance Oleson and James Nichols started celebrating another friend's 25th birthday by drinking about a dozen screwdrivers and smoking pot at Nichols' house. After getting served a series of beers and shots at the defendant bar, the drunk duo went on a small trek that resulted in hitting young Shane. Shane was on a bike, headed to the 7-11 with his friends (who survived but were seriously injured). He died at the scene.