Protecting the Civil Justice System
Our advocacy efforts span the breadth of policy fields necessary to preserve an individual’s protection against abuse by their government, another individual, or major corporation. We remain committed to the core principle that Washingtonians should have access to a fair and effective system of justice where wrongdoers are held accountable for their actions. We also believe in the fundamental principle that everyone is equal in a court of law in our society. We oppose special protections for negligent entities against the rights of people. And just as individuals should be held personally responsible for their actions, government, employers and corporations have a duty to the people of Washington to be held responsible and accountable. A few of our key priorities are below.
Updating Washington's Wrongful Death Laws
One of the most glaring inequities in our laws today is Washington’s unfair and discriminatory wrongful death and survivor statutes. When someone is wrongfully killed, their survivors are allowed to file suit to hold the wrongdoers accountable for the negligent death. The first order of survivors are spouses and children of the decedent, and where these relationships do not exist, the next of kin such as a parent are second-tier survivors.
Under Washington’s current wrongful death statutes, however, once a child turns 18 years old, parents lose the right to hold the wrongdoers accountable. The same is true for non-resident parents of children killed in Washington. This outdated clause came back to the spotlight when college students died in a Ride the Ducks crash, and their parents discovered they had no recourse.
WSAJ supports amending our wrongful death laws by eliminating discriminations against parents of adult children who are unmarried and childless, and ensuring parents residing outside of Washington have legal rights to hold parties responsible for the wrongful death of an adult child killed.
Holding Government Accountable
A fundamental value that frames our democracy is that government must be accountable to its citizens. Our civil justice system ensures that every citizen, regardless of stature, economic status or power, has the ability to hold our government accountable. This means when government wrongfully and negligently harms individuals, communities, or businesses through wrongful acts, Washingtonians have equal access to a remedy through our civil justice system. WSAJ believes that any legislation that puts the rights of government before the rights of citizens should be scrutinized closely.
Opposing Forced Arbitration Clauses
Hidden in the fine print of many consumer contracts - from credit cards and cell phone contracts to nursing home care and employment contracts - are dangerous forced arbitration clauses. Consumers and employees are often forced to sign these clauses in order to receive services or get hired and often don't know they've signed-away their legal rights until it is too late. In the event of a dispute with the corporation, forced arbitration says that a consumer or an employee cannot take their case to court but instead has to go to a private arbitration forum designed by the very corporation the dispute is against. We oppose legislation that strips people of their legal rights or tips the balance of power in favor of big corporate interests.
Protecting Injured Workers & Their Families
Washington’s workers’ compensation system is designed to help workers injured on the job receive the treatment and benefits they need after sustaining an on-the-job injury or illness. In exchange for giving up their right to hold negligent or unsafe employers accountable in court, injured workers rely on this state-funded and administered program to be fairly compensated for their injuries. Washington is the only state in the nation in which workers pay a share of the premium. WSAJ opposes attempts to overhaul the workers’ comp system in ways that will undermine its strong foundation.
Standing Up for the Rights of Employees
We are committed to protecting and expanding the legal rights and protections for working people in our state, including protection for pregnant workers; ensuring equal pay for equal work; ending noncompete agreements in the state of Washington; and combating wage theft, misclassification and retaliation in the workplace.