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– April Adkison
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– Lisa Allen (Yakima, WA)
A Yakima Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help if You Have Lost a Loved One Due to Another Party’s Negligence
The loss of a loved one is devastating, but it can be even more difficult to deal with when the death is caused by someone else’s negligence or fault.
When a family member dies unexpectedly, survivors may have to deal with the financial strain of medical bills and funeral costs at a time when they are overwhelmed with grief, emotional pain, and anger. If the death was due to the negligence or fault of another person, a Yakima wrongful death lawyer may be able to hold the person accountable, and help get compensation for the survivors, through an insurance claim or a wrongful death lawsuit.
While no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one, a financial settlement can help you deal with the expenses relating to the death and provide for the future of your family so you can start to heal and move on with your life.
Washington laws and procedures for wrongful death cases are complicated. and Making mistakes can be costly. But the wrongful death lawyers at Montoya Hinckley are here to help you. We are compassionate. We understand that you are going through one of the most difficult times of your life, and we will take the burden off you by handling all legal procedures and dealing with insurance companies so you can concentrate on your family’s recovery.
Our wrongful death lawyers have over four decades of combined experience in Yakima and Central Washington, so we have the necessary knowledge of the laws, the courts, and the system to effectively fight for the settlement award you deserve. Let us deal with negotiations with insurance companies and legal requirements and make sure everything is done properly.
We offer a free and confidential consultation to discuss the circumstances of your case and determine the best way to help.
There are no fees to you unless and until we win a settlement or award, so call us today at 509-895-7373 to get started.
How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You
Our wrongful death attorneys know how to fight for compensation for your losses.
When you hire our lawyers to represent you, we will make sure everything is done correctly from the start and will keep you informed throughout the entire legal proceeding. We can help by:
- Evaluating the facts of how the death occurred to see if a wrongful death case is warranted
- Explaining to you what the value of your case may be
- Filing all paperwork and handling all legal procedures and any court appearances
- Conducting investigations to gather evidence that may be relevant to a wrongful death claim, such as from surveillance camera photographs and videos, and police, ambulance, and medical records and reports
- Interviewing witnesses and first responders
- Hiring experts to investigate the accident and provide expert testimony as to how it occurred and who was at fault,
- Hiring experts to establish and the damages that you and your family have suffered as a result of the loss of your loved one.
- Locating all potential defendants who may have been at fault
- Handling all interactions with insurance companies and their lawyers and negotiating for a fair settlement
- Building your case and taking it to trial if necessary and arguing in front of a judge or jury.
Yakima Wrongful Death Attorney Can Evaluate Your Case to Determine if the Death is Wrongful
According to Washington statute RCW 4.20.010, if a death is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person, the personal representative of the deceased may bring an action against the person causing the death for the economic and noneconomic damages sustained by the beneficiaries. The designated representative protects the rights and acts in the best interests of all beneficiaries entitled to damages.
A wrongful death claim is like a personal injury case where the personal representative of the deceased person seeks compensation since the deceased can no longer do so. Wrongful death cases are civil lawsuits asking for financial restitution, separate from a criminal case, in which charges are filed by a prosecutor to punish a wrongdoer. If the person responsible for your loved one’s death acted negligently, our attorneys can file a wrongful death claim even if that person is also facing criminal charges related to your loved one’s death.
Only certain parties can be the beneficiaries of a wrongful death action. According to RCW 4.20.020, those who can benefit are the spouse, state-registered domestic partner, and child or children, including stepchildren, of the deceased person. If there are no relatives in these categories, a wrongful death claim may be brought on behalf of the parents or siblings of the deceased.
Common Situations Where a Death May Be Wrongful
Some accidental deaths, while tragic, do not fall into the legal category of wrongful death. Common situations where a death may be considered wrongful include:
- Vehicle accidents when someone acted negligently, recklessly, or violated the law, such as driving drunk through a red light at an intersection and causing a fatal crash
- Defective products that caused death even when used properly, such as a tool that malfunctioned or a piece of machinery that exploded
- Medical malpractice when a doctor didn’t follow a reasonable standard of care, such as a surgeon causing a fatal infection by leaving a sponge in a body cavity
- Property accidents such as a fatal fall or electrocution if the property’s owner failed to maintain the property in a safe manner or warn of danger
Damage Awards Our Wrongful Death Lawyers May Win for You
Our wrongful death lawyers will aggressively pursue an award that covers your economic and noneconomic damages.
Every wrongful death case is different, and settlement amounts depend on many factors, including the decedent’s life expectancy and life income. Damages permitted in a wrongful death case typically include both economic damages for specific monetary costs related to the death and noneconomic damages for losses that do not have a specific dollar value.
Damages may include:
- the deceased person’s last medical bills
- funeral and burial expenses
- costs related to property damaged as a result of the death
- loss of financial support, wages, and income that the person would have likely earned
- compensation for pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, that the deceased person experienced as a result of the final injury and death
- loss of care, companionship, and other intangible benefits by the deceased person’s family members
- reimbursement for any future services that the deceased normally would have provided to survivors.
In Washington, damage awards also can depend on factors such as whether a spouse was totally dependent on the deceased, and on who is pursuing the claim. For example, a spouse or children may be able to receive damages for loss of care, but the estate alone may not be able to do so. Also, RCW 4.24.010 provides special rules for wrongful death claims by a parent or legal guardian who has regularly contributed to the support of a deceased child under age 18, and for a parent or legal guardian who has had significant involvement in the life of a deceased adult child.
Washington State does not place caps on non-economic damages, so there is no limit to the amount of damages you may be awarded.
Sometimes more than one party may have contributed to the wrongful death. Our attorneys will examine each wrongful death situation carefully to find all parties who may be at fault, as each at fault party may have insurance and assets that can go toward paying a settlement.
What Must Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
To win your wrongful death lawsuit, our attorneys would have to prove that the defendant in the case was negligent, at fault, and therefore legally liable for causing the death of your loved one. Proving negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit is similar to the way the deceased would have had to prove liability for personal injury had they survived the negligent or wrongful act.
Proving negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit means showing the following elements exist:
- Duty: The defendant had a duty of care not to cause harm.
- Breach: The defendant breached this duty by acting or failing to act.
- Cause: This wrongful act, neglect or default proximately caused the.
- Damages: The victim suffered damages before death, or has surviving beneficiaries, children, or dependents who suffered damages resulting from the death, such as hospital expenses and loss of financial support.
To prove negligence, our lawyers at Montoya Hinckley start by investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding the death, to gather and preserve evidence. Since wrongful death actions can be very complicated, and gathering enough evidence to file a lawsuit can take a substantial period of time, it is important to contact our wrongful death lawyers as soon as possible, while evidence is fresh and witnesses can be located. Also, Washington has a statute of limitations, a deadline, for filing a wrongful death case that is three years from the time of death. If you miss this deadline, you will likely lose your opportunity to bring a wrongful death claim.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death Cases
Here are some answers to common questions our wrongful death attorneys are often asked:
Should I Accept an Offer from the Insurance Company?
What Is the Difference Between a Settlement and a Jury Award?
What do Expert Witnesses Do in a Wrongful Death Trial?
Contact Our Wrongful Death Attorneys in Yakima
At Montoya Hinckley, we understand that it is overwhelming for those who have lost a loved one due to a wrongful death, and we are here to help. We are well-known for our client-focused service philosophy and will work closely with you to provide support, answer your questions and concerns, manage all aspects of your claim process and interactions with the insurance company, and to get the justice you and your loved ones deserve.
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person or organization, do not delay. Call the wrongful death attorneys at Montoya Hinckley at 509-895-7373 today.
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