ClickCease How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Washington, DC

How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Washington, DC

Can You Sue For Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death claims are lawsuits brought by the survivors of a deceased family member on behalf of the deceased loved one. Wrongful death lawsuits are filed when the death was caused by negligence, carelessness, recklessness, or intentional conduct that would have led to a lawsuit had the family member survived. If you have lost a loved one and you are contemplating a wrongful death action, you should consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer. An attorney will provide support and help you advocate for your rights as a survivor and for the rights of your loved one. Hiring a Washington, DC, wrongful death lawyer ensures that you have someone to fight for your rights while your family heals.

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What Is a Wrongful Death Claim in DC?

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Wrongful death claims are lawsuits brought under the wrongful death statute of your state. Washington, DC, defines wrongful death as a death following an injury that was “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person or corporation.” DC Code §16-2701. Each state has its own rules on wrongful death, but generally, only immediate family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit, and the money awarded will go to the family members or the victim’s estate.

Who Can File for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Washington, DC?

sad young boy holding onto his fatherWhen a person is killed by the wrongful act of another person, their close family may have the right to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. In Washington, DC, wrongful death lawsuits must be brought in the name of the Personal Representative of the deceased person. DC Code § 16-2702. The beneficiaries of compensation from a wrongful death claim in Washington, DC generally include:

  • The surviving spouse.
  • The surviving children.
  • Additional family members, including the parents or grandparents.

If the victim was not married, the victim’s parents were no longer living, or the victim did not have children, another family member such as a sibling or other next of kin can recover compensation if they can prove that they were dependent on the victim financially.

How Do I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A lawyer’s role is to help you understand the legal process. The first step in filing a claim is the preliminary work, such as determining fault and calculating damages. After this phase is finished, the next step is filing the claim. Making a mistake in the filing process could cost you and making a mistake about the statute of limitations could result in losing the right to your claim. It’s important to have a lawyer coach you through this process, as the consequences of filing incorrectly can be significant.

The next step is the discovery phase, where both sides gather evidence and prepare for trial. The last step is either settling with the other party ahead of trial or presenting your case to a judge or jury. The trial lawyers at Regan Zambri Long are experienced with both negotiating settlements and presenting the case at trial and have the resources to represent you well. You can call or message today to get advice about your claim and schedule a free consultation.

What Are the Different Types of Wrongful Death Claims?

woman head on man's shoulder from the backWrongful death claims can result from many types of accidents or negligence. Some of the most common types of wrongful death claims are:

  • Car accidents. One of the most common types of If your loved one dies in a car accident as the result of negligence, your family can sue for wrongful death.
  • Medical malpractice. Probably the second most well-known type of wrongful death claim is medical malpractice. One of the most common causes of wrongful death in the medical field is failure to diagnose. Experts at the Institute of Medicine have found that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die each year due to preventable medical errors.
  • Unsafe premises. If your loved one dies as the result of an accident on dangerous premises, your family may have a wrongful death claim. This happens when a property owner or manager fails to upkeep the property properly or to warn of dangers they are aware of.
  • Defective products. If a defective product results in the death of your family member, you have the right to sue if the manufacturer of the product knew that the danger existed. This type of claim would be based on a product liability lawsuit and could require a showing of negligence or strict liability.
  • Nursing home neglect. If your loved one dies in a nursing home as a result of lack of care, understaffing, or neglect, your family has a right to sue for wrongful death.

How Do I Prove a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death is a type of tort, which is a type of civil action for negligent or reckless actions brought on behalf of the Profile of Sal Zambri Personal Injury Lawyerdeceased person. Wrongful death claims can be complicated to prove without an attorney. You must show that the accident caused the death, meaning you will need to gather evidence, understand the value of the case, and negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. To prove wrongful death, you must show each element of a tort claim:

  • Duty. The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased victim. This can be proven if the deceased person was under the direct care of the defendant, such as in a doctor-patient relationship or the relationship of someone in the care of nursing home staff and their caregivers.
  • Breach of that duty. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant breached the duty owed to the victim, meaning that they acted negligently.
  • That the negligence caused the accident. The plaintiff has to show that the breach of the duty of care caused the death and that the death was not caused by other means.
  • Damages. Last, you must show that the death of your loved one caused you harm. This harm can be financial, such as the cost of the funeral or burial, or personal, such as the cost of the loss of a companion.

How Much Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

This will depend on the age, health, and future earning capability of the deceased loved one. If your loved one was young or had dependents, you could recover more than if the victim was older, in poor health, retired, or single with no dependents. Then, the proceeds are divided to adequately compensate each party based on their loss when it comes to the lost loved one.

How Much Do Wrongful Death Cases Usually Settle For?

There is not an average settlement number for a wrongful death claim because each claim is different and small factual differences can create very different settlement amounts. However, after an initial consultation, an attorney can predict an amount of compensation based on the specific facts of your case. Wrongful death settlements generally range from several thousand to millions.

Regan Zambri Long has significant experience litigating wrongful death claims and has been assisting clients for over forty years. Some of Regan’s most successful wrongful death verdicts and settlements are:

  • A $15.2 million settlement award for a wrongful death caused by a defective vehicle.
  • A $15.2 million award from a jury verdict for wrongful death based on negligent maintenance of a building and violations of the fire safety code.
  • A $5.8 million settlement award for wrongful death based on a delayed cancer diagnosis leading to premature death.
  • A $4 million settlement award for wrongful death resulting from a defective vehicle.
  • A $1.4 million settlement award for a police officer killed on the job.

How Long Does it Take to Settle a Wrongful Death Claim?

man standing by window worriedThere is no set amount of time it takes to settle a wrongful death claim. Like the amount of compensation, there are many variables. When liability (duty, breach, and causation) is already established or is not in question (like in a strict product liability claim), the only variable left to decide is what compensation is reasonable. Claims like this will move much quicker than claims with complicated liability issues, evidence issues, or discovery disputes. Sometimes, a wrongful death claim will settle in just months, but most wrongful death cases take longer. Depending on the length of the discovery phase of the lawsuit and how busy the court’s schedule is, it can take years to reach a resolution.

What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Claim?

Damages in wrongful death cases are awarded to compensate the family of the victim for any expenses from the accident and to compensate the family for future expenses or lost wages based on the loss of the loved one. Common damages in wrongful death claims are:

  • Funeral and burial costs. In a wrongful death claim, the cost of the funeral and burial services can be compensated. In the Maryland, Virginia, and DC areas, funeral and burial costs can easily exceed $10,000. Damages for these expenses help offset the costs of burying a loved one.
  • Medical expenses. This includes any medical expenses related to the accident or the death, such as hospital stays, rehabilitation, scans or X-rays, medication, or surgery.
  • Loss of financial support. The money that the family member would have provided in the future if they were still living can be compensated.
  • The cost of the loss of companionship and consortium. These legal terms describe non-economic losses generally considered to be compensation for the personal loss of the family relationship. This is considered to be compensation for the personal loss of the family relationship or the impact of the death on the family members.
  • The cost of losing a parent’s guidance and training. This loss is similar to a loss of companionship but is specifically for a child who has wrongfully lost the parental relationship.

Why Choose Regan Zambri Long as My DC Wrongful Death Lawyer?

If you have lost a loved one and you are thinking about filing a wrongful death action, consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer. An attorney will provide support, and they will advocate for your family’s rights. Our wrongful death lawyers have been representing survivors in wrongful death suits for over thirty years and have the experience, knowledge, and resources to secure compensation for wrongful death claims. We have recovered millions of dollars in wrongful death claims, and take pride in providing the highest quality legal representation for families who have lost loved ones. Call today to schedule a free consultation.

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Have you or your loved one sustained injuries in Washington DC, Maryland or Virginia? Regan Zambri Long PLLC has the best lawyers in the country to analyze your case and answer the questions you may have.

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