Dealing with the loss of a loved one is difficult enough without shouldering the burden of unexpected medical bills or struggling to make ends meet due to loss of income. If you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence or misconduct of another, then you may be entitled to compensation for your financial losses as well as your pain and suffering. The best way to know if you qualify for compensation is to reach out to a wrongful death attorney at Ashcraft & Gerel. For years, our professional accidental death lawyers have helped surviving family members in and around Washington DC seek the justice they deserve. Discover what they can do for you by reaching out to them for a consultation today.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a special kind of personal injury case in which the surviving family members can sue the negligent party for the actions or inactions that directly led to their loved one’s death. In traditional personal injury cases, someone is hurt following an accident that was caused by another party. Their Washington DC personal injury lawyer can then help them file a lawsuit against that person in order to receive compensation for their medical diagnosis, medical treatment, and even lost wages if the plaintiff had to miss work during their recovery.
For wrongful death lawsuits, since the injured party has passed away, their close living relatives are able to sue the defendant on their loved one’s behalf. It’s important to note that not all incidents that lead to the death of a loved one result in an accidental death lawsuit. If your loved one is found completely or partially at fault for the accident, then you may not have a strong case. In order to determine whether you should sue for wrongful death is to discuss your legal options with a Washington DC wrongful death lawyer. The knowledgeable attorneys at Ashcraft & Gerel have years of experience in representing clients in both personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. They can use this experience to help you decide whether a lawsuit is the right decision for you and your family.
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What Are Common Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
Like most legal cases, no two accidents are the same. There are a number of scenarios in which a wrongful death lawsuit may be considered appropriate. Some of the most common types of wrongful death cases involve any of the following:
- Car accidents caused by a negligent or drunk driver
- Motorcycle accident due to reckless driving
- Medical malpractice accidents
- Nursing home patient abuse or neglect
- Product malfunction or product liability
- Dog bite caused by an unrestrained pet
- Slip and fall accidents on unsafe property
If any of the above sound similar to your loved one’s accident, then reach out to a wrongful death attorney in Washington DC to discuss your case in further detail. During a consultation, your legal professional will be able to provide insight as to how strong your case is and what your next steps should be in order to file an accidental death lawsuit against the responsible party.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for My Loved One’s Death?
Anyone can be held liable for an accidental death claim, including individuals, organizations, businesses, and government entities. While in a lot of cases there is a single plaintiff and defendant, wrongful death cases can be very complex, especially if multiple people can be held responsible for the passing of a loved one.
For example, if a car accident involving someone who was texting while driving was the cause of your loved one’s death, you can sue the negligent driver for the accidental death. However if either driver’s car had a major malfunction where, had it not existed, the accident could have been avoided, then you may be able to sue the car’s manufacturer, as well.
Who your claim is filed against is determined by your individual case as well as the results of your attorney’s investigation into your case. To determine who can be considered liable for your wrongful death lawsuit, reach out to an attorney in Washington DC for a consultation. By interviewing witnesses at the scene and gathering supporting documents, your lawyer will be able to advise you on who you should hold responsible for your loved one’s death.
How Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
While the specifics of who can file a wrongful death lawsuit varies from state to state, wrongful death lawsuits are usually filed by a close surviving family member of the deceased, such as a husband or wife. If the deceased has no spouse or domestic partner, then their children, siblings, parents or legal guardians can file a wrongful death claim.
If you fall into any of the categories above, then you are able to file a wrongful death claim for your loved one’s accident.
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Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Washington, D.C.
Filing a wrongful death claim against the negligent party responsible for your loved one’s death can do more than just provide your family with the financial compensation you deserve. It allows you to hold them responsible for their actions publicly in a Washington DC court. In a lawsuit, the final decision as to what type of compensation you’ll receive is decided by a judge. After a successful accidental death case, it’s possible for you to be awarded any for of the following:
- Medical bills and expenses (this includes emergency care that your loved one may have needed as a result of their injuries)
- Lost wages and benefits the deceased may have earned if they’d survived the incident
- Funeral and burial expenses
While there is no limit to the amount of damages the family member(s) filing the claim can recover, courts in Washington DC often restrict damages for sorrow, mental distress, or loss of affection. With that said, your lawyer will be able to give a clear idea of what type of compensation you’d be able to seek based on the circumstances surrounding your case.
Winning a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Washington, D.C.
Accidental death claims are won and lost based on the evidence that’s provided to the judge and jury. In order to have a successful wrongful death lawsuit, your lawyer will need to prove that the negligence of the other party directly resulted in your loved one’s passing. They can gather supporting evidence to prove this by interviewing witnesses as well as accessing photos, video footage, and written records that could prove the defendant neglected their “duty of care”.
“Duty of care” is a legal term that means the defendant had a certain level of responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved one. One example of this would be a caregiver working in a nursing home. They owe their patients a certain “duty of care” and if they neglect that duty by mistreating their patients, then they could be considered responsible for any resulting injuries or deaths. In another example, anyone who is behind the wheel of a vehicle owes the other drivers on the road a certain “duty of care” since they are responsible for following the rules of the road and safe driving practices.
Of course, the defendant’s lawyer may argue that they had no responsibility toward your loved one’s well-being. But your Washington DC wrongful death attorney will have the knowledge needed to combat their claims in court.
Once “duty of care” is established, then your lawyer will need to prove “breach of care”, which means that the defendant neglected their duty of keeping the deceased safe. This can be as simple as proving that the driver involved with your case was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the accident, or more complex if your lawyer has to prove the manufacturer of the car knew that their vehicles were defective enough to lead to a car accident.
The situations surrounding your case will determine what type of evidence your lawyer will seek in order to prove both duty of care and breach of care. Using their professional resources, an attorney will be able to thoroughly investigate your case in order to find the information you need for a successful conclusion. This is why you should give your lawyer as much time as possible to build evidence for your case by filing your wrongful death claim as soon as possible.
Wrongful Death Settlement vs. Lawsuit
Taking the defendant for your wrongful death claim to court isn’t the only way for you to receive compensation for your losses. Families can also seek financial rewards through a settlement. Unlike a traditional trail, a settlement is handled outside of court and your attorney will work with the defendant’s lawyer in order to negotiate fair compensation for your losses. This could be beneficial to you as instead of a judge being the deciding factor for what type of compensation you receive, you can negotiate directly with the negligent party. Settlements are also beneficial for the defendants as they can avoid a public trail and conclude the matter outside of court.
If you decide that settling your wrongful death claim is right for you, your lawyer will still investigate the issue in order to present the strongest case possible to the defendant’s lawyer in order to justify the amount of compensation you are requesting. They’ll also be able to advise you on whether the defendant is offering a fair deal or if taking your case to court is the best way for you to receive full and fair compensation.
How soon should I file a wrongful death claim in D.C?
Following the wrongful death of your loved one, it’s important to take the time you need to grieve your loss, but if you’re considering filing a wrongful death claim, then you should do so sooner rather than later. In most areas of the United States, there is a statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim. Washington D.C. law provides a limit of 2 years following your loved one’s death.
While 2 years may seem like a lot of time to file your claim, it’s important to keep in mind that your lawyer needs as much time as possible in order to gather supporting evidence for your case. It takes time to build a strong case and, over time, memories can fade and evidence can be misplaced that could be paramount for proving the neglect of the defendant. Regardless of when you file, your attorney will still interview witnesses and investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. However, for the strongest case possible, you’ll want to make sure they have enough time to gather the evidence you need.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, then don’t delay. Reach out to a wrongful death attorney at Ashcraft & Gerel to discuss filing a lawsuit. Our lawyers have experience in helping families in Washington DC seek the justice they deserve for their personal injury, product liability, and wrongful death claim. Let them use this knowledge to help you build a strong enough case so you can receive full and fair compensation for your losses.
Contact Ashcraft & Gerel in Washington DC for a Wrongful Death Consultation
The surviving family members following an accidental death are often left with a lot of questions. They’re not sure who to turn to following their loved one’s death and how they can move forward with the new financial burden of their medical expenses or funeral costs – especially since they are struggling to pay bills on a single income. The good news is, you can be compensated for your losses with the help of an experienced lawyer.
You can reach out to a Washington DC wrongful death attorney to get answers to your questions and start the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The lawyers at Ashcraft & Gerel have helped hundreds of families move forward following a fatal car accident, medical malpractice, or product malfunction that leads to the death of a loved one. Reach out to them today to take the first step toward receiving the compensation you need to get through this difficult time in your life.