If you have lost someone you love in a car accident, then you know that there is no amount of money that can heal the pain you are suffering. Losing a loved one due to the actions of another driver which could have been prevented makes it even more painful. After a death, grief isn't the only pain you may be suffering. To add to the emotional pain of their passing, the death of a loved one can cause financial difficulty. You may have to adjust to living the income which you relied upon, or may be dealing with medical bills or unplanned funeral expenses.
If you are struggling to stay afloat after losing someone you cared for in Washington or Oregon, there is hope--you may be eligible to recover financial compensation from the at-fault driver in the accident by bringing a wrongful death action. The team of Vancouver attorneys at Schauermann Thayer are standing by to help you determine whether or not pursuing a wrongful death action is right for you.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Distracted drivers are one of the most common causes of car accidents. Distracted drivers in the Pacific Northwest are ever-present on the roads we travel. A tired parent may be trying to wrangle their kids in the back seat; a driver who is running late might be scrambling to map their route while driving; a young driver may be sending a quick text message to his or her parents letting them know she will be home late. Regardless of the circumstance, a driver who isn't devoting his or her full attention to the road can be very dangerous.
Driving Under the Influence:
Whether under the influence of alcohol or drugs, drivers who are impaired can lose the ability to operate a vehicle safely or make quick decisions while driving. Sometimes, a delayed reaction can take someone's life. Such drivers may not even be under the influence of any illegal drugs. Even legal controlled substances, such as prescribed painkillers, may cause them to be unfit to operate a vehicle.
We encounter reckless drivers on the roads every day--from the person who flies past you in a no-pass zone to a driver who zips between cars on the interstate, speeding and reckless driving can cause serious accidents. As our roads become more and more congested, frustrated drivers in a hurry may increase the reckless driving we see in the area.
Sometimes, the cause of your loved one's accident isn't another driver's actions at all but is caused by a defective vehicle part. Vehicles are full of parts and equipment that can malfunction, including tires, brakes, and airbags. There have been numerous vehicle parts recalls that have caused accidents, injuries, and even deaths.
Poorly Maintained Roads:
We can all relate to the hassle of traveling on poorly maintained roads at one point or another. While the pothole in the middle of the lane or the crumbling pavement at the side of the road can be a nuisance to us at low speeds, at high speeds such inconveniences can become deadly. Here in Washington and Oregon, studded tires and increased traffic can increase the road damage, which can lead to more accidents caused by road conditions.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a period of time in which a person can bring a lawsuit against a wrongful party. In both Washington and Oregon, a party who is suffering the loss of a loved one has three years in which to bring a wrongful death lawsuit for their loved one's death. If a lawsuit is not properly filed and served within this period of time--a wrongful death claim is barred forever. There may also be even shorter notice periods to particular at-fault persons or entities which require even swifter action.
While a lawsuit may be the furthest thing from your mind, it is imperative to seek an attorney's assistance as soon as possible after your loved one's death in order to ensure that you have time to provide adequate notice and file a lawsuit against the person or entity whose actions caused the death.
Statutes of limitations can sometimes be more tricky than they may initially appear; many factors can play into these time limits, such as one of the parties being a minor or how long it took you to discover a defect in your loved one's vehicle. An experienced attorney will be able to sort through the factors involved in your case to ensure that you file your case within the appropriate time limitation period.
What Compensation can I Recover for a Wrongful Death Claim?
If you have lost a loved one, a wrongful death action may be able to compensate you for the losses and damages you and your family suffered as a result of that death. These damages can include:
If your loved one fought for his or her life following a car accident, you may find yourself left with medical bills after his or her death. Ambulance rides, medical care, hospital stays, and surgical expenses can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. You may be eligible for compensation to help pay for the medical expenses incurred following your loved one's death.
The cost of a funeral service, along with a cremation or burial, can be surprisingly high to someone who has never had to pay such an expense before. If your loved one is being buried, caskets alone can cost thousands of dollars, and grave plots often just as much, if not more. These are only the costs of burying or cremating your loved one--they don't include a funeral service, graveside service, or the costs of transporting your loved one to their final resting place. If you are facing funeral costs which you never anticipated being responsible for, you may be entitled to compensation which can ultimately reimburse you for reasonable funeral expenses.
Loss of Financial Support:
Your loved one may have been the sole income-earner for your family or may have provided a significant portion of your household income. Regardless of how much he or she financially contributed to your household, it can be difficult to adjust to the loss of income provided by your loved one to which you grew accustomed. After your loved one's death, you may find yourself struggling to stretch your income to pay your mortgage, cover utility bills, or even provide food for yourself or your children. If you are suffering financial hardship as a result of your loved one's death, a wrongful death lawsuit may be able to help.
Loss of Companionship:
While the expenses listed above can often be relatively easy to calculate, you can't put a price on the time you lost with your loved one or the affection you so desperately wish you could have again. No amount of money, whether big or small, can bring back the companionship which you shared with your loved one. A wrongful death lawsuit does take into account the emotional toll of your loss, however, and can often provide some amount of compensation for the relationship you have lost with your loved one.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
As with any lawsuit, a wrongful death action can be extremely complicated. Evidence must be collected, witnesses interviewed, medical records must be reviewed, and experts consulted. You must prove that the other party was at fault in causing your loved one's death. An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate the specifics of your case to highlight strengths and weaknesses and can relieve you of the stress of fighting a lawsuit.
Wrongful death actions are not the type of cases which should be pursued alone. These are complex cases with specific legal standards, procedural rules, and deadlines which must be followed to ensure your chances of the best possible outcome. Even the slightest mistake or missed deadline can jeopardize your case and prevent you from getting compensation after your loved one's death. It is critical to consult an attorney who has experience with this type of case in order to give you the best chance of success. The Washington and Oregon attorneys at Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards PS can help take the weight of a lawsuit off your shoulders and advocate for you during your time of need.
Was Your Loved One Killed in a Car Accident? We're Here to Help
If you are grieving the loss of someone you loved, you deserve an attorney who will fight on your behalf to seek justice for your loved one's death. The attorneys at Schauermann Thayer have years of experience vigorously fighting on behalf of many clients in wrongful death claims. While you can't put a dollar amount on your loved one's life, our attorneys are dedicated to helping you receive as much compensation as possible for the life which your loved one didn't deserve to lose and the financial strain which you didn't deserve to have to bear.
To speak with an attorney about the specifics of your case, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (360) 695-4244 today.