At common law there was no right of recovery for wrongful death and the cause of action for personal injuries did not survive the death of either the injured person or the tort-feasor. In 1846 Lord Campbell's Act was adopted, and not long thereafter wrongful death legislation appeared in every state, patterned largely after the English statute.
David C. Cummins,
Damages in Washington Wrongful Death Actions,
35 Wash. L. Rev. & St. B.J.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol35/iss3/5