Ride the Ducks Crash Helps Propel Change to Wrongful Death Laws

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April 15, 2019, at 8:21 p.m.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington Legislature has approved an update to the state's wrongful death law, the latest reverberation from a fatal 2015 crash that cast a spotlight on a century-old state law.

The proposal would remove requirements that, after an accidental death in the state, family members must live in the United States and be economically dependent on the victim to be able file a wrongful death claim here. The law dates to 1909.

The state House passed the bill on a 61-37 vote Monday. Having previously passed the Senate, it now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.

A fatal 2015 crash in Seattle put the law in the spotlight. In that incident, a "Ride-the-Ducks" amphibious vehicle veered into oncoming traffic, killing five and injuring 69 when it struck a bus filled with foreign students.

At least one family of a victim in the crash was restricted by the law and later challenged it, calling it discriminatory.