Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to some of the most common questions clients have when building their case.

Frequently Asked Questions

A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit. In Washington, the victim’s family seeks a wrongful death action when someone’s negligence has contributed to the death of a loved one. A legal representative for the estate asks the negligent party’s insurance provider for financial support. This support is intended to cover hardships like the cost of a funeral, ambulance fees, and emergency response charges. A wrongful death claim can also compensate the family for future hardships when the deceased can no longer provide guidance and monetary support. A civil claim, like a wrongful death lawsuit, is very different from a criminal case. Criminal charges generally result in the punishment of the guilty party after a criminal trial. A criminal verdict does not award any money to the family of the deceased victim. Only a civil case can earn families the support they need to protect themselves financially. The two cases are separate and families can earn compensation from a negligent party through civil proceedings even if the party isn’t found guilty of a criminal act.

Yes. In Washington, a lawyer representing the victim’s estate can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of family members. This legal representative is often known as an “executor.” A wrongful death lawyer works on behalf of remaining beneficiaries to earn close relatives compensation for the loss of a loved one. This support helps to safeguard the family from the financial challenges they may face in the future without the love and monetary support the deceased would have provided.

In many cases, you will often obtain significantly more compensation for your injuries with the help of a personal injury lawyer than you would without one. That said, not every case involving scrapes and bruises requires an attorney. We will go over all of your options with you during our free consultation and case evaluation.

Yes. Our home office is on Trent Avenue and we have represented clients in Spokane and Spokane Valley since 1948. We have also represented many clients in Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene Idaho and beyond, and even clients from other states who were injured in Spokane.

In the State of Washington, there is a three year statute of limitations for any injury to person or property claims. There are exceptions to this and situations where one may have more or less time.

Circumstances which often result in personal injury claims in Spokane and beyond include fatalities and injuries as a result of car accidents, medical malpractice, unsafe premises and other forms of negligence.

Many cases do not make it to a trial, but select a highly professional and capable personal injury lawyer who has trial experience and courtroom success. Defense attorneys and insurance adjusters know which attorneys are willing to fight for you and which are willing to settle cases quickly and cheaply.

A probate is done in a number of steps: 1. Open probate. You will need to prepare a petition to the court. The petition must ask the court to find a number of items: that the will is the last known will of the decedent; (2) that it was validly executed and attested (by at least two witnesses). The petition must also state whether the estate is solvent. The individual petitioning as personal representative will need to sign a sworn oath stating that he or she is the named personal representative and that he or she is willing and able to serve. If the petition is approved, the court will issue you an order admitting the will to probate and appointing personal representative of the estate. It will also issue you letters testamentary, which is your formal authorization to act on behalf of the estate. If the decedent died without a will, the procedure to appoint a personal representative is generally the same, but the terminology varies. 2. Notify all necessary parties of your appointment as personal representative. Once you have been appointed personal representative, you are required to give notice of your appointment to each individual named in the will, and any heirs (children, grandchildren, etc.) who are not named in the will. The beneficiaries must have an opportunity to challenge your appointment if they so choose. 3. Notify the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). You must also notify the Department of Social and Health Services of the state of Washington of your appointment. This notice allows the department to review its records to determine if the decedent or any beneficiary owes any unpaid child support. 4. Gather assets and information. Next, you will need to begin a review of the decedent’s assets and relevant information. This includes a thorough search for the location and account numbers of any bank and brokerage accounts, stock certificates, bonds, real estate deeds, insurance policies, and so forth. You will need to speak with life insurance agencies, pensions or any other benefits to obtain claim forms, apply for death benefits from the Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration and/or employer pensions. Finally, you will want to inventory all automobiles, furniture, jewelry, and other possessions. 5. Prepare an inventory and appraisement. As you gather assets, you will need to create an estate inventory, listing each asset and the value of such asset as of the date of death. If an estate tax return is required to be filed, formal appraisals will be necessary in order to substantiate the value of certain assets. You will need to provide copies of the inventory to beneficiaries if they request it 6. Notify creditors. You will also need to gather information on the decedent’s debts. As the personal representative, it is your duty to inform all of the decedent’s creditors of his or her death. Your attorney can provide you with a notice to send to all known creditors. However, there may be some creditors that you don’t know about. Those creditors have up to two years to come forward and file a claim against the estate. You should publish a notice of the decedent’s death in a local newspaper and allowing it to run for three consecutive weeks to extinguish possible claims. 7. Manage estate assets during administration. The personal representative is responsible to manage and protect the assets of the estate. Responsibilities include setting up bookkeeping records, opening an estate checking account, collecting dividends and interest, paying bills, filing tax returns, collecting receipts for expenditures, maintaining insurance on assets, and supervising a business interest. 8. Distribute assets to beneficiaries. Once the taxes and other expenses have been paid, and the creditors claim period has expired, it is time to distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries. Once each beneficiary receives all of the property to which he or she is entitled, the personal representative will have the beneficiary sign a receipt for full distribution and a waiver of all future notices. 9. Close the estate. After all of the estate assets have been distributed, you can close the estate. You need to prepare a declaration for your signature providing a summary of your actions as personal representative. The declaration, together with the receipts from the beneficiaries, will be filed with the court.

What if there is no will at all?
If you can’t find the original will, the court will presume that the decedent destroyed it. If you believe it was lost rather than destroyed, speak with your attorney. While it may be possible to prove that the original will was lost, it will be costly. Whether the cost is worth the time depends on such factors as taxes, etc.

If you can’t find the original will, the court will presume that the decedent destroyed it. If you believe it was lost rather than destroyed, speak with your attorney. While it may be possible to prove that the original will was lost, it will be costly. Whether the cost is worth the time depends on such factors as taxes, etc.

To get a probate started, you need to petition and get appointed by the court as the personal representative. To start that process, you need to gather some information. You need to (1) find the original will, (2) gather the names and addresses of all beneficiaries named in the will as well as the names and addresses of all of the decedent’s children, grandchildren, etc., and (3) obtain multiple copies of the death certificate.

Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of someone who has passed away (decedent). This means that a person (a “personal representative”) is appointed by the court to step into the decedent’s shoes and wind up his or her affairs.

In Washington, there are procedures available pursuant to statutes that give you the right to “expunge” or “vacate” a conviction. How that affects your particular charge will be dependent on the charge and what type of relief you are working for. A very common use of these statutes in Washington is to restore gun rights after a felony conviction.

Sentencing for felonies in Washington State is very complex. To understand how you may be sentenced for your particular charge, you will need to consult with an attorney. Misdemeanor sentencing is simple and straightforward and will depend a lot on your past criminal history and the severity of the offense. Some charges, such as DUI, carry mandatory jail for first time offenses.

A crime in Washington can either be a misdemeanor or felony. Traffic offenses like speeding or stop sign violations are called “infractions” and are not considered criminal offenses. Misdemeanors are either simple or gross. The maximum penalty for a simple misdemeanor is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine and the maximum penalty for a gross misdemeanor is one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Felonies are classified as Class A, Class B and Class C. Class C felonies are the lesser. A felony penalty depends on the type of crime, with the maximum sentence for a Class A felony is life imprisonment. Felonies in Washington carry much broader effects on your rights. With a felony conviction you will lose your right to vote, to own or possess a firearm, to be on a jury, and to hold public office. On top of that, you will likely be excluded from many job opportunities on this basis alone.

Trial in criminal cases can be very complicated and take a lot of preparation time. Criminal trials are normally, though not always, done in front of a jury. In a criminal trial, the burden is on the state to present its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that you as the defendant do not have to present your case, and you don’t have to testify if you choose not to. Of course, you are free to present a defense and free to testify if you choose. What is the best approach to a criminal trial is something you must consult with your attorney. Ultimately, how you wish to proceed is your choice. After the state and you have rested your case, it will be up to the jury to decide your guilt or innocence.

No attorney can give you a definite answer on how long your case will take. Many factors go into how long the case will take: the severity of the charge, the facts involved in the case, the court’s stance on your type of offense, and even your eagerness to get the case resolved. While individuals often prefer to be done with the court process as soon as possible, there is often value in prolonging the process to explore legal issues and negotiate a better resolution. So, the length of time will depend.

After your arrest and criminal charge, you will have a first appearance. This is a hearing where you are informed of the charges filed against you, and given a written copy of the charging document. The judge will advise you regarding the charges against you and discuss any pre-trial release conditions. Depending on the charge, if you have hired a lawyer your arrangement may be waived. If you are not represented by a lawyer at the arraignment, you want to make sure you plead “not guilty”. After the arraignment, the next appearance is usually a pre-trial conference. These hearings allow the parties to discuss the case and determine if a resolution can be reached regarding the charges. If no resolution can be reached during pre-trial hearings, your case will proceed towards trial.

Normally the paperwork on your criminal citation will state a court date and time. If you haven’t been given a court date, that means you will likely need to schedule your court date with the clerk. If there are questions about whether you have been formally charged or will have a court date, a lawyer will be able to assist you.

If you are arrested, you should be cooperative and not resist. The last thing you need is a resisting arrest charge. You also want to make sure that you do not provide an officer with more evidence against you. You have a right to remain silent, and you should use that right. Next, as soon as you have the opportunity to make a phone call, request a call to your lawyer. If you don’t have an attorney, ask the police officer to let you speak to a public defender (they are usually on duty at all hours). If you are booked into jail, either someone will need to pay cash for your bail, or you need to make arrangements to get bailed out by calling a bail bondsman. Normally a bondsman will charge you a non-refundable 10% fee of the bail amount.

Generally, an officer needs a warrant to conduct a search of you or your property. There are many exceptions to this requirement, one of which is consent from you to do so. If an officer is requesting your consent to search, that means he or she may very well not have another legal exception to search. The only reason an officer will ask to search your house, your car, or even you, is to look for evidence to use against you. You don’t need to make the officer’s job any easier, and are certainly justified in withholding consent for the search. You have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and should exercise that right. If an officer has probable cause to search you, there is nothing you can do to prevent the search. If the officer doesn’t have probable cause, you don’t need to make his or her job any easier.

If a police officer is investigating a crime, he is talking to you to investigate and gather evidence of a crime. If a police officer talks to you and finds evidence of a crime, he or she will use it against you. Accordingly, you gain nothing by talking to a police officer and create the possibility of providing incriminating evidence to the officer if you do. The law does not require you to talk to a police officer. In fact, it is well within your rights to remain silent, and request that you consult an attorney before answering any questions.

People from Idaho drive through Spokane Valley, Spokane and other parts of Washington on a daily basis. If you have been injured near Spokane you will want a Spokane car accident lawyer.

Turo, Lyft, Uber and other car sharing or ride sharing applications are great but present new challenges. If you are injured by a driver using one of these services, a taxi, or a classic car rental agency such as Enterprise or Budget you should still be able to be compensated.

Many collisions in the Washington, Idaho, and the rest of the United States are a result of the negligent actions of a driver. Negligence can be anything from driving on bald tires to driving while intoxicated or being distracted. Distracted drivers could be texting, watching Snapchat, eating fast food, or even playing with their radio instead of looking at where they are going. Sometimes there are additional contributing factors to accidents such as road defects. It is important after any serious injury to have an experienced attorney look at all aspects involved in the wreck. Rear end accidents, head on collisions and T-Bone accidents are very different.

Most insurance companies have one thing in mind when contacting you after an accident and that is to pay out as little money as possible. If there are injuries or fatalities involved in the accident do not speak to them at all without consulting an attorney.

Washington is one of the few states which has adopted pure comparative negligence. If you are injured and partially at fault or even mostly at fault you may still be able recover damages due to the percentage of fault another driver has caused.

Traffic citations are unsupported opinions of police officers that a traffic offense occurred. Traffic court proceedings generally aren’t considered to be reliable and thorough enough to be used against you in a personal injury case.

Unlike some settlement mill style attorneys, our highly trained personal injury lawyers and staff will work closely with you to understand the circumstances surrounding your accident. With the help of expert witnesses, including accident reconstructionists and medical specialists, we will build a strong case supported by facts. Our firm is prepared to fight for your rights, while the majority of cases are settled without a trial, we will not hesitate to bring your case to trial to obtain a fair and favorable outcome in your case.

A great lawyer who specializes in personal injury law will have a long history of verdicts and settlements. Established in Spokane in 1948, we are committed to proving our clients with the best and highest quality legal representation in the Spokane and Spokane Valley area. We are also licensed to practice personal injury law in the State of Idaho and represent clients in Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene, and beyond.

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