Emerald City Legal Services

There is nothing more emotionally difficult for a lawyer than a wrongful death...

    Nothing affects a lawyer as deeply as a wrongful death case. It is always a poignant experience working on a wrongful death case, because we visit their grave, the scene of their death, and with their family. The family often talks to us almost the same way they do with a therapist, partly because we have to talk about their feelings in order to be able to effectively tell their story to the jury, but also because it is our job to hold the defendant responsible. Photos of them stare at us from our bulletin board. Slowly, a picture of them as a person emerges; vibrant children in the flower of life, fathers who live for their children, devoted daughters helping their elderly parents, grandpas, only children, sisters, brothers, fiancées, mothers, daughters, everyone has a story, and over time we get 'to know' them. We see the people they were, and the opportunities they still had in front of them, and what they meant to the people they left behind. We come to 'know' them in a way that many of their friends and family don't. Often it's a much 'deeper' way. We often come to see them as people we would have liked to have known. Sometimes we learn so much, that the line blurs, and we start to think of them as friends. And yet we never meet our client...

            And we come to understand how, and why, they died, and what happened next better than anybody else. We have to look at their autopsy photos, even when we don't want to. We find things in the case file that we know we have to shield from the family. Things that they should not see. Things they should not know. Things they don't want to think about. Like how they struggled before death, or how death did not come easily, or how they were in pain, or scared, or knew they were dying, and worse things I can't mention because someday someone will read this who needs to hire me. When the deceased is lucky, death happens quick, and they don't linger, but for far too many that suffer a wrongful death, that's not the case. Knowing all this is our job.

              Ultimately the anger builds. Righteous anger. Indignant fury. We have come to see this client we never met, as a friend we never knew,

and we see everything that they, and their family lost, when they died. And we know exactly how they were killed by someone else. We often know

who did it. Unfortunately it's usually because they weren't paying attention, or they were being reckless, driving too fast, talking on their phone,

texting, looking the wrong way, racing, failed to build a fence, failed to fix a faulty deck, failed to diagnose internal bleeding, drinking and driving, we see it all. We know, really know, at an emotional level, how needless and preventable the death of our client was. And it is our job, to go out and kick the legal butt of the people responsible. The anger helps us overlook the emotional pain and grief that we have come to have about the death of our client. The anger helps motivate us in the morning read through more evidence that drains us emotionally. The anger helps us listen to the adjuster talk about valuation when we just want to reach through the phone and slap them. The anger serves a purpose, but like anger often does, it ultimately leaves us more drained. That's the job; it's not easy; it's always a tragedy; and we always 'feel' the case, as much as we 'know' it. So we go home and play with our kids, take our wife to dinner, watch something mindless, do anything to try to forget the tragedies at the office, the faces on the bulletin board, the lost hopes and dreams. At least until tomorrow...

That's the job of a Wrongful Death lawyer, endure, take some of the pain away from the family, and deliver a pale shadow of justice for the client we will never meet...

 

My Personal Experience with Wrongful Death

      In 2009 I worked on the wrongful drowning death of a four year old boy. It was a premises liability case where the kid slipped and fell on a grassy slope, slid down the embankment, and fell into a man-made pond. His momentum from the fall carried him away from the edge, and because he had no swimming or water safety skills - he drowned. Investigation of the claim revealed that the apartment company had failed to fence the pond in violation of Washington case law, and that this pond had killed someone before. He left behind a twin brother, devastated parents, and two lawyers who wish they had not had his case...

      When my wife was 10, her father, her sister, and her, went for a Sunday bike ride in the countryside. He fell off his bike, broke a leg, and was hospitalized. Even though he was showing signs that he was bleeding internally, the hospital didn't investigate the issue, didn't find his bleeder, and three days later his internal organs shut down and he died. It would have been a classic failure to diagnose medical malpractice case. He left behind a devoted wife, and two little girls, one of which I would eventually be lucky enough to marry. My wife grew up without her dad, and she was never the same. He wasn't there to see his little girl grow up, go to college, or walk her down the aisle at our wedding. He never got to meet the grandson that carries his name. These are the things that a wrongful death robs of the people who are left behind. You need a lawyer who understands your issue, and will work for you tirelessly...

There is no more serious injury than to cause someone's death...

There is no more serious injury than to end someone's life...

There is no more serious injury than death...

     In 2011 I worked on the wrongful death of a 73 year old grandfather who was run over by a speeding car while he was crossing the street. He and his wife owned a small business. He was known for being a doting grandpa to his grandkids. When we visited the scene a week later, a skid mark and blood stain were still on the pavement. He left behind a grieving widow, children, and small five young grandkids who didn't understand why their grandpa had disappeared... 

 

The father-in-law I never got to meet...

Toys floating in the pond where the little boy drowned

Skid marks where the grandpa died...