KTTU Anchorage reports that Tim Oates, a long-time Fairbanksan, was killed in a motor vehicle wreck Sunday. The crash was caused by Trent Knutson. Mr. Knutson faces assault, drunk driving and murder charges. Here is what the Oates family should be doing…
Investigate what insurance carrier covers Mr. Knutson – and file a claim ASAP – in writing. Then, file a claim against Mr. Oates’ own automobile insurer, in Fairbanks. Also, if any family members (related by blood or marriage) were members of Mr. Oates’ household when he was killed, file a claim with their auto insurer as well. Determine whether Mr. Knutson was acting within the “course and/or scope” of employment for any business when he killed Mr. Oates. If he was, then Alaskan law allows the Oates family to file claims against that employer/principal.
Next, look into Alaska’s Statute 09.60.070. It provides that when a person is injured or killed during the commission of a “serious crime” – that person is entitled to not only his/her recovery, but also to have his/her attorney fees paid by the criminal.
Finally, keep an eye on the Statute of Limitations for your AS 09.55.570/580 (wrongful death and survivor) claims. It is very likely two years in Alaska. That means the Oates family thus must settle or file any claims in court before the two years expire, or risk losing all of their rights. Actually, they should get moving much sooner – be assured that the insurance companies are working right now to take away whatever is owed.
BOTTOM LINE: A part of me always feels bad in situations like this. I feel the tension between: (1) wanting to help a family that just lost a loved-one; and (2) realizing that they are grieving and don’t need to think about legal matters right now. I’m really sorry to blog like this – touching so many cases in which Alaskans, friends, have been maimed or killed.
Here’s why I do it: In 2004, I lost a brother in a motor vehicle wreck. He was badly burned. I know exactly what these families are enduring. I watched my brother slowly die at Harbor View Medical Center in Seattle. I watched his lips swell – his eyes close – his fingers looking like burnt matches. I saw his lack of response.
Because of that, I’m willing to take the criticism for these blogs. Call me an ambulance chaser if you must. I can take it. If these blogs helps even one family to be treated fairly and not get screwed by the insurance companies… If I can help even one family keep bread on the table – and the wolves at bay – after losing a loved one – you can call me whatever names you want.
We pray for the Oates family.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Wrongful Death.