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What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Washington, DC?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action that is noncriminal and exists to benefit the surviving family members with monetary compensation following the loss of their loved one. The lawsuit is brought by the family members and/or dependents of a deceased person against the individual(s) who knowingly or negligently caused the death of the deceased person.

The pain of unexpectedly losing a loved one is overwhelming and all-consuming. Grief is an intense emotion that can cause physical pain, deep depression, and other health issues. Grieving a loved one’s death takes time. You need to care for yourself and your family. The one thing you don’t need is to deal with a lawsuit. The DC wrongful death lawyers at Regan Zambri Long understand what you and your family are going through. Our goal is to take the burden of the wrongful death lawsuit off your shoulders so you can focus on healing.

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Wrongful Death Laws in Washington, DC

Each state or jurisdiction has its own laws regarding wrongful death cases. These laws may include the definition of wrongful death, how long the victim’s family has to bring a lawsuit, who can file the lawsuit, a cap on damages collected, and other requirements.

The Regan Zambri Long wrongful death attorneys have been practicing in the District of Columbia for over 30 years. We have a deep understanding of the District’s laws regarding wrongful death lawsuits.

In Washington DC, wrongful death is defined as a death “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person or corporation.” In layman’s terms, this means that when someone’s death is someone else’s fault, the deceased person’s family can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or persons at fault. In Washington DC, the family members have two years from the date of the person’s death to file the wrongful death claim.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Washington, DC?

In a personal injury case where the victim survives, the victim would personally bring about a lawsuit with the help of an attorney. However, in wrongful death cases where the victim died, the lawsuit needs to be brought about on their behalf.

In the District of Columbia, the law states that a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate must file a wrongful death claim. This may be the administrator or executor of the deceased’s estate. If there isn’t an executor or administrator, the court can appoint one. It must be noted that even though a personal representative must file the wrongful death claim, that person will not necessarily be the recipient of the damages.

Family members are dealing with grief and trauma in the aftermath of their loved one’s death. The process of a wrongful death claim is often too emotionally draining. This is why it’s in the best interest of the family to have a wrongful death lawyer by your side. We will advocate for you and help you navigate this process with compassion and care.

Who Can Benefit from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Sad woman with hands by her face paralysis lawyerIn Washington, DC, the financial benefits from wrongful death lawsuits can be distributed in two main ways. The first way is if the deceased person has a will. If a will was created, then the wrongful death damages will be awarded to the estate and distributed to:

  • Surviving spouse or domestic partner
  • Surviving children
  • Surviving parents
  • Next of kin

Unless explicitly stated in the will, the damages are calculated according to the loss that each surviving family member suffered from the victim’s death. For example, let’s say a construction worker was killed on the job because his company failed to properly maintain the construction equipment. The construction worker’s surviving family members sued the construction company in a wrongful death suit and were awarded financial compensation.

If the deceased person’s spouse was a homemaker who largely depended on her husband’s salary as a main source of income, she would be awarded a large portion of the damages. Similarly, the deceased person’s children – especially if they are minors who cannot financially support themselves – would be awarded a large portion of the damages, as well. Parents, siblings, and next of kin would receive monetary compensation if they received financial support from the deceased person.

Intestate Damages in Wrongful Death

When a person dies without a will they are said to have “died intestate.” Washington, DC has strict intestacy laws that give man holding his head at desk with computerpriority to certain family members and rules on how to divide the damages.

If the victim died intestate, the wrongful death damages will be allocated in the following way:

  • The surviving spouse will receive all the damages if there are no surviving parents or children.
  • If there are surviving children, the spouse will be awarded two-thirds of the damages. The rest will go to the surviving children.
  • If the surviving spouse is not the parent of the victim’s children, then half of the damages will go to the surviving spouse and the other half will go to the children.
  • If there is at least one surviving parent and a surviving spouse, three-quarters of the damages will go to the surviving spouse and the rest will go to the surviving parent.
  • If the victim did not have a surviving spouse, parent, or child the damages will be awarded to the siblings.
  • If there is no surviving spouse or children, then the total amount of damages will be awarded to the parents.

Wrongful Death Intestacy Laws and Children

Families come in all shapes and sizes and the District of Columbia’s laws reflect that. However, the best way to protect a child in the event of your untimely death is to create a last will and testament.

Adopted children can receive wrongful death benefits, but only from the legal adopting parent. Let’s say one spouse or domestic partner legally adopted a child. The other spouse co-parented the child, but never legally adopted him. If the spouse who was not legally the child’s parent died, the child could not receive compensation from the wrongful death claim.
If the parent who legally adopted the child unexpectedly died, then the child could receive the financial benefits from that wrongful death suit.

Step-children may only receive compensation from a wrongful death claim if the step-parent explicitly states that in his or her will. It is the same for non-biological children. If a child were like a son or a daughter to the person who died, but they were not named in the will, they would not be able to seek compensation from the wrongful death case.

Finally, the distribution of death benefits to an illegitimate child can be complex in the District of Columbia. If paternity is not established before the victim’s death, the child may have a problem securing compensation from the wrongful death claim.

We Can Help with Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Washington, DC

The wrongful death attorneys at Regan Zambri Long can help you and your family navigate your way through the claims process. We understand family dynamics are complicated. That doesn’t stop when someone dies. We will make sure to walk you through the case, explaining it every step of the way. You and your family will be informed every step of the way.

What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death in Washington, DC?

Wrongful Death LawyerUnfortunately, there are many cases where someone’s death could have been avoided. A wrongful death comes down to negligence. Negligence is simply a failure to take proper care in doing something.

The most common causes of wrongful deaths in Washington, DC and across the United States are:

Poisoning

Believe it or not, poisoning was the number one cause of preventable death in the United States in 2021. Many victims who die from poisoning are people who work in the petroleum and/or chemical industries. Toxic exposure can lead to life-threatening diseases like mesothelioma, respiratory problems, and other deadly cancers.

Car Accidents

According to the National Safety Council, the second cause of preventable death in the U.S. is car accidents. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 1.3 million people die each year from motor vehicle accidents. Recklessly driving, drowsy driving, distracted driving, speeding, and driving under the influence could cause a catastrophic collision resulting in an accidental death.

Slips and Falls

About 17,000 people die from slip and fall accidents each year. These accidents can happen when a home or business owner fails to ensure their property is safe. For example, let’s say a business owner is renovating her shop. She knows her front steps are too narrow and not up to code. However, she ignores the problem because of the added expense of fixing the stairs. A patron could fall on the stairs and hit their head, causing a (wrongful) fatal accident.

Choking

Deaths resulting from choking tragically occur frequently in nursing homes. The nursing home staff has a responsibility to ensure the safety and utmost care of their patients. If a patient is prone to choking, they most likely have very specific dietary restrictions. If they are ignored or neglected, they have an increased risk of choking.

Other Washington, DC wrongful death cases may be:

  • Drowning
  • Medical errors
  • Truck accidents
  • Product liability (defective products)
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Violence and criminal acts

What Is the Process of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The wrongful death attorneys at Regan Zambri Long will walk every step of the process with you and your family. Our lawyers will be available to you at all times.
The process we’ll use to secure wrongful death damages is:

  • Determine the responsible party: This is the first step in any civil wrongful death case. There can be multiple parties who may be liable for wrongful death. This is why it is especially important to have a legal expert by your side. Our wrongful death attorneys will hold every responsible party accountable for their involvement in your loved one’s death.
  • File the wrongful death claim: Time-critical paperwork needs to be filled out to officially file a wrongful death claim against the party or parties responsible for the wrongful death. Our wrongful death lawyers will take care of filling out and filing all necessary paperwork. You and your family can spend this time to heal from this sorrowful event.
  • Investigate the cause of the fatal accident: At Regan Zambri Long, we spare no expense while seeking justice for our clients. We will consult with medical experts, eyewitnesses, accident reconstructionists, police officers, and other appropriate experts to build a wrongful death case. Your Regan Zambri Long lawyer will work around the clock making sure no stone is left unturned. Every single piece of evidence will be collected to prove your loved one’s death was preventable.
  • Negotiations: After we build your case, we will start negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to save money and lowballing the amount of compensation owed to the victim’s family. We know every strategy they’ll try and we will not allow it. If we don’t believe they are offering you a fair settlement agreement, we will escalate your case.

Will My Wrongful Death Claim Go to Court?

Regan Zambri Long Attorneys Consulting with CllientYour wrongful death case will only go to court if the settlement agreement is not sufficient. If your wrongful death case does go to court, know that you will have the best trial lawyers in Washington DC. Our attorneys are nationally known to be shrewd negotiators in the conference room and fierce fighters in the courtroom.

During the trial, you can rest assured your wrongful death attorney will be with you until the end. Our law firm has the financial backing to see even the largest cases through. Many smaller law firms in the DC Metro Area send their clients to Regan Zambri Long if the case gets too big for them.

What Damages Will I Collect from a Wrongful Death Claim?

Each wrongful death case is different – there is no exact estimate of how much you’ll receive in damages. However, your Regan Zambri Long lawyer will work to secure the maximum compensation possible. We understand that in the aftermath of losing your loved one, your financial future is also in question. We will work tirelessly to make sure you and your family have the financial support you need.

The damages your wrongful death lawyer will seek include:

  • Loss of financial support, including wages and benefits that the deceased person would have likely made if he or she lived.
  • Medical expenses, including all the medical bills for the care provided to the deceased person during the injury or illness.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Loss of consortium, which is the deprivation of family relationships. This can include loss of parental guidance, loss of affection, and loss of a sexual relationship).
  • Punitive Damages are damages that are intended to punish the defendant. These damages are more unlikely in most wrongful death claims. If you believe punitive damages are necessary in your case, speak with your lawyer.

Can a wrongful death lawsuit be filed if there is a criminal case?

The short answer to this question is yes, the deceased person’s family members may still proceed with a wrongful death claim if there is a criminal case as well. As we talked about before, wrongful death claims are a type of civil litigation that is tried in civil court. These cases are where two parties seek monetary compensation for a wrongful act.

A criminal case is heard in criminal court. A prosecutor appointed by the local, state, or federal government charges the defendant with a crime. If proven guilty, the defendant can face community service or imprisonment.

Should I Hire a DC Wrongful Death Lawyer?

Washington, DC does not have a law stating you need a lawyer to file a wrongful death or any other type of personal injury claim. However, your chances of securing the highest compensation possible greatly increase when you have a legal expert on your side.

Our attorneys have been practicing in Washington, DC for over three decades. We are well-versed in the laws in each jurisdiction. We know insurance company policies and the court system and we are confident in our ability to secure you and your family fair compensation in your wrongful death lawsuit.

At Regan Zambri Long, You’ll Be Treated Like Family

sad young boy holding onto his fatherWe deeply understand what a devastating time this is for you and your family. We meet many clients at the worst possible time in their lives. While it’s always a challenge, we also consider it a high honor to serve the residents of Washington, DC at such a critical time in their lives. While we know we can’t bring back your loved one, we can serve justice in their name and help ease your financial burden.

Our client testimonials reflect our heart for our community. When you partner with us, you will be treated with the utmost care and compassion. While we promise to do all the heavy lifting, you and your family will be continually apprised of your case. Communication is key and your attorney will be available to you at all times.

Call today for a free consultation with one of Regan Zambri Long’s compassionate wrongful death lawyers. We will listen to your story, answer any questions you may have, and get the claims process started.

Schedule a Free Consultation

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.

Call 202-960-4596

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