In Washington, the families of a victim of a wrongful death have three years to file a civil suit. After that period of time has passed, it’s highly unlikely that the case can be brought to trial. However, it’s important to note that the statute of limitations is paused during a criminal trial.
This is crucial because a criminal trial involving the death of another person can take months or even years to complete. A person cannot be simultaneously tried in a criminal and civil lawsuit. Instead, the criminal trial must always be completed first and the civil lawsuit can come after.
Not all cases resulting in a wrongful death will bring a criminal trial and the two are viewed separately in every step of the process. A wrongful death lawsuit is essentially a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a person so injured that they died as a result of their injuries.
An experienced personal injury attorney can provide more information about these kinds of lawsuits.