Washington Law Review


Bryant Brady


The first statute giving a right of action for the death of a human being, Lord Campbell's Act was adopted in England in 1846. New York adopted a similar statute, a year later. At the present time all American jurisdictions have statutes conferring a right of action for wrongful death. These statutes differ widely in their terms, particularly as to the person authorized to bring the action, and as to those for whose benefit the action is prosecuted. The statutes, however, fall into two distinct classes. Statutes of the first and by far the larger group, following Lord Campbell's Act, create a new and independent cause of action for the death of the deceased in favor of the specified beneficiaries. These are the true death statutes. The second group comprehends the so-called "survival statutes," that is statutes which merely keep alive the right of action which the deceased himself would have had, had he lived. A number of jurisdictions, including Washington, have adopted statutes of both types. The Washington statutes as they existed prior to 1927, and as amended by the legislative session of that year are set forth below

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