Spokane Lawyers | Spokane Wrongful Death Attorneys

Spokane Wrongful Death Attorneys

Serving Residents in Washington and Idaho

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    Wrongful Death Brand.mp4

    Spokane Wrongful Death Attorneys

    Serving Residents in Washington and Idaho

    Do you need legal help?

    Contact us for a legal consultation.


      Helping You Through Your Legal Problems

      Our Spokane, WA attorney's are here to guide you. Reach out today if you need legal help.

      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.
       

      - Christine Weaver

      I have worked with Paukert and Troppmann now for nearly 15 years. This is a professional and successful legal team. I highly recommend this proficient legal group and encourage you to explore how they can support you.
       

      - Herzog Family Center

      Client Testimonials

      Learn what the community has to say about our law firm and the people who are a part of it.

      Read more reviews ➜

      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.
       

      - Christine Weaver

      I have worked with Paukert and Troppmann now for nearly 15 years. This is a professional and successful legal team. I highly recommend this proficient legal group and encourage you to explore how they can support you.
       

      - Herzog Family Center

      Read more reviews ➜

      Client Testimonials

      Learn what the community has to say about our law firm and the people who are a part of it.

      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.
       

      - Christine Weaver

      I have worked with Paukert and Troppmann now for nearly 15 years. This is a professional and successful legal team. I highly recommend this proficient legal group and encourage you to explore how they can support you.
       

      - Herzog Family Center

      Client Testimonials

      Learn what the community has to say about our law firm and the people who are a part of it.

      Read more reviews ➜

      Download our free injury guide!

      Learn what you should and shouldn't be doing for your personal injury case. 

      Download our free injury guide!

      Learn what you should and shouldn't be doing for your personal injury case. 

      Spokane Wrongful Death Attorneys

      Losing a loved one is heartbreaking, no matter the circumstances. Finding out the loss could have been prevented had someone been more careful adds an infinitely heavier sorrow. If you’ve suffered the wrongful death of a loved one, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to consider pursuing compensation for your loss.

      If you’re reading this, you’ve probably lost a loved due to circumstances that could have been prevented. You’re almost certainly in emotional pain, and if the person you’ve lost was an income earner for the family, you may be facing financial hardship as well. It’s likely you’re searching for someone to help you with a wrongful death claim.

      We are here to help. Our firm offers free legal advice. Call our Spokane wrongful death attorneys today.

      Don’t put it off another day because you’re worried about needing money up-front before contacting a law firm. Call us any time to set up your free legal consultation and get the answers you need.

      What Kind of Cases Do Wrongful Death Attorneys Handle?

      A wrongful death claim can be filed for deaths that are accidental or intentional. Most are filed because a death resulted from someone’s negligence. Below are examples of areas in which a wrongful death claim may fall:

      • Construction accidents
      • Recreational accidents, such as those in swimming pools or boating, jet skiing, and hunting accidents
      • Overdoses and poisonings
      • Fires, electrical injuries, and explosions
      • Nursing home abuse and negligence
      • Motor vehicle accidents involving other vehicles or the death of a cyclist or pedestrian
      • Medical malpractice

      Many people don’t realize it, but a wrongful death claim can be filed even when the at-fault party is being charged with a crime.

      How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Help Me?

      When making a case for wrongful death, it is necessary to prove that the at-fault party’s carelessness, negligence, or reckless behavior caused the death. The burden of proof in a wrongful death claim is the same is it is for other personal injury claims.

      • Our experienced Spokane wrongful death attorneys can help you make your case as efficiently as possible. We begin with a thorough investigation of our own to prove liability for the death, separate from law enforcement investigations. Our firm has the experience and knowledge to conduct an investigation that will support your case — even at trial, if necessary.
      • Hiring an attorney gets the attention of the insurance company. The absence of a lawyer’s involvement often works against claimants because the insurance company knows they are not in danger of losing in court if they fail to settle. As a result, they can hit you with delays and denials until you accept a lowball offer or simply give up. Not only are most claimants inexperienced in handling claims or suing in court; claimants in wrongful death cases are usually grieving and vulnerable. It’s unfortunate, but most people who file claims without the help of an attorney end up with many times less in compensation than those with lawyers.
      • Your Spokane wrongful death attorneys can assist you in properly establishing the value of your claim. There are many factors involved in determining the damages in your claim. Hiring a lawyer is the best way to make sure you seek compensation for all the ways your life has been devastated by your loss.
      • Hiring a lawyer will help preserve the value of your claim, because experienced wrongful death attorneys know the methods insurance companies use to save money. This includes challenging claims to ensure the claimant is not making a fraudulent claim to make “easy money.” As distasteful as that sounds, it happens, and the insurance company will be watchful. Having an attorney taking care of your claim for you ensures your claim’s value remains protected, as your attorney verifies your claim without setting off any false alarms that could cause the insurance company to lower the amount of money they pay in settlement.
      • A wrongful death attorney will help you evaluate settlement offers objectively, with the experience to know when an offer is worth considering and when it’s best to pass an offer up. The professional objectivity this requires is extremely helpful in the emotionally charged setting of a wrongful death claim.

      In addition to the benefits listed above, consider that handing your claim to our experienced Spokane wrongful death attorneys enables you the time you need to grieve and take care of your family, which carries with it a value it’s tough put a number on.

      Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Washington State?

      Typically, wrongful death suits are filed by a personal representative of the estate. In many cases this person is the executor of the estate, who may also be a relative of the person who passed away.

      The personal representative seeks damages on behalf of the estate. They bear a significant burden of responsibility in choosing the wrongful death attorney, giving input on the direction of the claim, and working with the attorney in determining whether to accept settlement offers or take a case to trial.

      A personal interest claim may also be joined by people designated as “real parties of interest.” This means they were close with the person who has died and have been impacted by the death. Real parties of interest may seek damages in addition to the executor.

      The primary real parties of interest who may join in a wrongful death claim are:

      • The spouse of the deceased
      • The children and stepchildren of the deceased
      • If the person who has passed has no spouse or children, the parents of the deceased may join, as may the siblings.
      • If the deceased person was younger than 18 upon death, the parents who regularly provided support to that child may file.
      • If the parents are divorced, separated, or have never married, then the parent who files the claim must let the other parent know about it within 20 days of filing to allow them to join as well if they wish.

      Mistakes to Avoid

      When considering filing a wrongful death suit, it’s important to avoid some common mistakes that can lower the value of your claim.

      The first thing to avoid is speaking with the insurance company. As mentioned above, the company is going to be on the lookout for fraud. As such, any request to record your statement about the circumstances of your loved one’s death is best referred to your Spokane wrongful death attorney. Your lawyer will communicate effectively on your behalf without unintentionally saying anything that can be used to lower the value of your claim.

      Insurance adjusters are skilled at getting people to talk in these fact-finding conversations. If you speak to one of these people, you may not even realize how much information you are giving them. It will probably feel like a relief to speak to a good listener about your pain for a few minutes. But keep in mind why this person is listening to you.

      Take for example, a recorded conversation between an insurance representative and a grieving relative. If they get to talking, the relative may reminisce about how her father always got sleepy on long drives. The remark could be said innocently and have no bearing on the accident, which took place when her father was driving half a mile to pick up milk. But the adjuster may now be thinking the decedent fell asleep at the wheel.

      Allowing your attorney to handle communications with the insurance company will prevent you from implying in any way that your relative was partially at fault in the accident or incident that took their life.

      Don’t Wait to Find an Attorney

      Sometimes people make the mistake of using the statute of limitations for their state as their deadline for filing a wrongful death claim. While important, this deadline is not your most pressing concern. Long before you need to think about the filing date, you’re likely to face a scarcity of evidence and quality witnesses.

      Getting started on your claim as soon as possible is the best way to ensure an experienced wrongful death attorney can get started on an investigation right away.

      If you find the task of looking for a lawyer daunting during this difficult time, consider asking a relative or friend to begin the search for you. Ask them to look for the websites of law firms that handle wrongful death claims. They can read client reviews and look on legal website directories such as avvo.com and lawyer.com for attorney ratings.

      Choose Your Attorney Wisely

      The person who will be of most help to your wrongful death claim is going to be a personal injury trial attorney. This person should have a successful track record in wrongful death claims and be equally comfortable going to trial or negotiating a settlement. It’s natural to hope for a stress-free settlement, but there are no guarantees. You need a lawyer who’ll be ready for either contingency.

      Wrongful Death Client Story

      We are sharing the story of one of our clients to give you an idea of what you can expect in wrongful death claim. We’ve edited names and details to protect our client’s privacy, but that doesn’t lessen the helpfulness of the information. Please read to the end to find out as much as possible. Then call us and schedule your free legal consultation so we can talk about your specific claim.

      Chad Norton was teasing his wife Peg, calling her his “Sugar Mama” as he helped her pack for a business trip one summer evening in Spokane not so long ago. Peg laughed, as she always did when he called her that, and threw three pairs of socks at him to add to her carry-on bag. She promised to be home on Saturday morning. Just a couple of days and she’d be back.

      The couple had met in their mid 30s, after each had made a disastrous run at marriage and failed. More mature and less distracted by shiny objects, they’d recognized the quality of their relationship from the start and treated it with the respect it deserved. They felt fortunate to have found each other and married in a small, quiet ceremony a year later.

      Over the years, Chad and Peg supported each other’s goals and dreams. They’d both been professionals when they’d met, but Peg had always wanted to go back to school for her master’s degree. At dinner on their one-year anniversary Chad had encouraged her to pursue it again, but she’d laughed and told him her biological clock was telling her otherwise.

      Both Chad and Peg had come from broken homes and creating the kind of loving family they’d never had was extremely important to them. They decided grad school could wait, and just over a year later became the proud parents of Benjamin James Norton.

      Chad was happy for Peg to stay home with Ben until he started school. Ever practical, they decided they could make their apartment work for a bit longer to stretch their money as far as possible. They appreciated everything they had and found happiness in their time together. Peg had clearly inherited her New England mom’s practicality. Her favorite motto was, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

      As Ben started preschool, Peg began taking some classes she could put toward that degree she’d been putting off. When Ben entered first grade, she matriculated into an online program and really threw her effort behind it. Halfway through Ben’s second grade year, Peg had the masters and a lucrative job offer.

      Adjusting to both of them being back in the corporate world required a coordinated effort, but if anyone could work it out, they knew they could. Peg’s new job was a relief after years of stretching their money so thin. They were finally able to buy a home of their own. They were also able to start paying down the debt they’d accumulated as a one income family. If they kept their budget on track, Peg estimated grad school could be paid off in two years. After that, they planned to catch up on investing for retirement and start a college fund for Ben. They were finally achieving financial security for the family and had the family they’d always wanted. They were content.

      That all changed three days after Chad packed his wife’s socks into her suitcase and helped her load her car for the airport.

      Peg called the night before her return, as usual, to give Chad her flight number. He wouldn’t need to pick her up — she had her small Kia at the airport and would be driving herself home — but she liked Chad to know when she expected to be back.

      He was glad for the call, because even though her business trips were brief, he always missed her terribly. They chatted for a while and planned a picnic at the park after her arrival the next day. Then Chad passed the phone to his son for kisses and “good night I love yous” all around.

      The next morning, Ben helped his father pack the picnic basket and load it into the car with the quilt they used for picnics. Peg had made the quilt out of squares from each of their clothes: squares from Ben’s baby and toddler clothes, some baby blankets, and a couple of his little league T-shirts; a few squares from Chad’s college fraternity and favorite band T-shirts, plus a few from Peg’s college days cherished vacations. There were also some fancy lace squares from Peg’s maternity nightgowns. It was Peg’s gift to Chad on Father’s Day the year before, and he’d been so touched, he was reluctant to use it.

      “That’s not how this works,” Peg had said, smiling as she draped the quilt over her husband’s shoulders like a cape. “We live our lives and hold nothing back. We eat on the good china, we use our memory quilt. It’s the time together that holds the value, Chad. You’re the one who taught me that.”

      Chad had nodded, blinking back happy tears. He truly was a rich man. They’d used the quilt on many picnics since then, cherishing the memories and the grass stains that came with them.

      With the car all packed, Ben pulled up a chair at the kitchen island to chatter on some more about getting a dog.

      We really are a cliché, thought Chad, shaking his head with a smile as Ben rambled on. The kid was so cute, Chad knew by the end of summer, he and Peg would be dutifully feeding and walking the dog had Ben promised to care for in his dozens of relentless, persuasive arguments.

      Chad checked his watch. Peg was running late. Airport traffic, he told himself, returning his attention to his prattling son. Just the same, he was relieved to hear the car roll up the driveway as Ben went on about the dog. The kitchen door was open and as footsteps came up to the stoop, he looked up smiling, expecting to see her through the screen.

      “Was your flight delayed?” he said before stopping abruptly. A burly sheriff’s deputy stood awkwardly on the stoop, peering in uncertainly as he removed his hat.  

      “Mr. Norton?”

      Chad remembered fixating on that hat as he suddenly knew why his wife was late. Why had he taken off the hat? That wasn’t right. He wanted the man to put the hat back on. The deputy saw him sway and burst into the kitchen with alarming speed, catching Chad as his knees gave out.

      Peg Norton’s vehicle had been struck head-on by a drunk driver as she drove home from the airport. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

      Ben’s Aunt Tricia — Peg’s sister, would move in that afternoon and stay for a week. After the funeral, Chad’s mother moved in indefinitely. Chad remained in a kind of dazed, continuous nap, wrapped in his “Super Dad” quilt. Years later, Ben would remember how everyone spoke in hushed tones around his dad for a long time after that.

      We met Tricia three weeks after her sister’s death. She told Spokane Wrongful Death Attorney Breean Lawrence Beggs she had been nominated by Peg and Chad as Peg’s executor back when they’d married.

      Chad had joked about it then; sure Peg would outlive him. But when Peg tried to get serious, Chad couldn’t even discuss the concept she might ever die before he did. She realized she’d need someone who could step up, even in the midst of grief. It wasn’t going to be complicated; Chad would get everything until their son grew up and inherited whatever they had from his father. She tapped Tricia to handle it.

      How much does it cost to hire a wrongful death attorney?

      Tricia was very clear upon her arrival that she had to be judicious with the family’s money. Chad would be receiving Peg’s life insurance and of course all the family assets, “But as executor, I would like to find out what it would cost to pursue a wrongful death suit against the drunk driver that killed my sister? I need to know if it’s a possibility before putting Chad through the strain of discussing it.”

      Attorney Beggs told Tricia there would be no out-of-pocket expense. “Our firm covers all case expenses from start to finish,” he said. “We work on a contingency fee model. We’d begin with an accident investigation to clearly establish all at-fault parties. Then we’d cover any research and administration expenses, as well as litigation expenses, should the case need to go before a jury.”

      Tricia bristled. “All at-fault parties?” She repeated pointedly. “You’re speaking in the plural. Are you going to stand there and suggest my sister was in any way responsible for getting killed by a drunk driver?” She didn’t realize she’d stood up, nor did she feel the tears on her cheeks.

      “Not at all,” said Beggs gently. “In cases involving accidents caused by drunk drivers, sometimes the establishment that served the alcohol is found to be at-fault as well, depending on the circumstances.

      “Naturally, the insurance company will require us to clearly establish fault, though that’s not going to be an issue in your case. Even so, we make sure we carefully identify any additional at-fault parties, such as ‘dram shops,’ — bars or restaurants—who may have served alcohol to the at-fault driver. If that driver was already intoxicated when they were served the alcohol, the dram shop may be responsible for compensating the estate and Chad for the loss of your sister. I assume Peg’s husband will be joining the claim?” He asked.

      Tricia sat down heavily and wiped her eyes. “He will. I’m sorry. I’m supposed to be the ‘clear-headed’ one,” she said, as more tears welled up. “Truth is, I’m in so much pain, I can barely see straight. It’s mostly anger, because my sister, she was forty-five years old, for Heaven’s sake. We’re not here because she was a hundred and it was ‘her time;’ we’re here because some idiot went on a bender and got behind the wheel!” She wiped her eyes with her sleeve. Beggs handed her a box of tissues. “I’m just so…”

      “Angry.” He finished.

      “Yeah…” She sat and sniffed and wiped her face for a few minutes for continuing. “I’m sorry,” she said again, “Thanks for being so patient.”

      “No need to apologize,” said Attorney Beggs. “Grief in all its forms is to be expected with the loss of a loved one, especially in a case of wrongful death.”

      What to Expect in a Wrongful Death Claim

      “So, what now?” Tricia asked. “How does this work?”

      “The first step is our investigation confirming there is a basis for a wrongful death suit. As I mentioned, this involves legally establishing fault for the accident and how the at-fault persons’ negligence breached the care of duty they had to the person they harmed.

      “A ‘duty of care’ refers to the reasonable measures a person would normally be expected to take — in this case, while driving — to behave safely and avoid injury to those around them.

      “When a driver breaches this duty, people often get hurt. The connection between the breach of duty and the harm it caused is called ‘causation.’

      “In your case, we need to establish that the breach of duty occurred, who was responsible for the breach, and the harm caused as a result of the breach.

      “Once the case is successfully made, the at-fault parties are liable for providing monetary compensation to the legal beneficiaries or estate of the person who died.

      “As your wrongful death attorneys, we assist you through this process, investigating, proving the liability of the at-fault parties, and collecting full and fair compensation from them.

      “The process involves clarifying the kinds of damages and compensation you can pursue, and helping you through the case from start to finish. The responsible party will be expected to compensate the estate or family for the financial injury the death inflicted. This may include compensation for things like pain and suffering on the part of the victim before death, a partner’s loss of consortium, loss of future earnings, medical expenses, and funeral and burial expenses.

      “Considering all of the factors involved, a wrongful death attorney is extremely beneficial to ensuring all at-fault parties are held responsible and all your damages are considered and included in your claim,” Attorney Beggs concluded.

      Tricia was satisfied with the answers she received in her free legal consultation. She retained the law firm of Paukert and Troppmann, PLLC on behalf of the estate. She also brought Chad to the office, and he joined the claim on his own behalf and that of his son. At the conclusion of the claim, Attorney Beggs was successful in getting the family a settlement that was many times higher than the insurance company’s initial offer.

      Call Our Spokane Wrongful Death Attorneys Today

      We hope the information above has given you some peace of mind about what to expect in a wrongful death claim. Every case is unique, so please call us and schedule a free legal consultation. We are ready to stand up and fight for your right to receive compensation for what you’ve lost, so you can move forward in taking care of yourself and your family.

      Client Reviews

      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.

      Christine Weaver

      Read More Reviews