When a person is killed as the result of another person or group’s wrongful conduct or negligence, the deceased’s beneficiaries and heirs may file for wrongful death against those who are to be held responsible for the event. Wrongful death cases and legislation differ according to state, but in general, the state will define who is eligible to sue for wrongful death in clear terms.
Originally, these wrongful death statutes were created as a means of providing for the financial needs of orphans and widows, as well as for motivating people to show great care in preventing injuries. Set apart from criminal charges, a wrongful death action will neither affect nor control the results of a criminal charge. In other words, a person who has been acquitted of murder may still be sued for wrongful death by the victim’s family.
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The process of suing for wrongful death can be complicated and difficult to understand. With the help of our team of Yakima legal professionals, we can help you navigate the process and help you get the representation and compensation you seek.
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Who may file a wrongful death suit?
Although unique circumstances may allow a claim to be initiated by someone other than the immediate family if he/she was supported by the decedent, nearly all wrongful death suits are initiated by a spouse or other close family member. Your wrongful death lawyer in Yakima will assess the total monetary value of your claim either by adding values for the above expenses or choosing to review regional or national legal publications for similar claims and liabilities; this gives a statistical weight to your claim.
What's the first step in preserving my claim?
It's critical that you document, insofar as possible, all the circumstances, injuries, bills, or other evidence you are using to substantiate your claim. Remember these tips:
- Obtain the name, phone number, address, and insurance information from each party that contributed to the wrongful death
- Avoid interviewing accident witnesses; merely record their contact information
- Keep a daily journal from the date of the accident to the present (use it to document the deceased's physical, mental, and emotional injuries, and to record your perspectives)
- Avoid signing anything for an insurance adjuster or negotiating any settlements
- Locate an experienced wrongful death lawyer; Yakima claimants need to file within specific time limits (see below)
How do I manage current bills?
To allow you appropriate, continuing medical care and to protect your credit rating, you need to pay bills immediately. Your lawyer will coordinate paperwork for current medical insurance, state or federal medical programs, and/or health care providers and collection agencies; we also work to hold collection of bills until after the claim is settled.
Is there a time limit to file my claim?
Washington State generally allows a claimant three years in which to file a wrongful death claim. Check with your lawyer to be certain the statute of limitations allows this, as some instances require two years or less after an accident causing death.
What happens during the insurance claim process?
Because insurance companies are businesses, their goal is profit. An insurance adjuster's goal is to settle your claim for the lowest minimum possible. Conversely, a personal injury lawyer wants to settle for the maximum allowed amount.In its simplest framework, the insurance claim process aims to complete these tasks:
- Information collection
- Reserves establishment
- Damages evaluation
- Settlement negotiation
- Trial defense (bottom priority)
What do I do if the parties who caused the injury are uninsured?
It is important to work with a reputable attorney to find out about any uninsured parties. Although these cases can be difficult, a good lawyer can find other avenues of compensation such as underinsured motorists' coverage, joint and several liability, and the Crime Victim's Compensation Program. Because of the challenges involved in this scenario, it's critical to hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer for Yakima area victims.