If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, our Washington DC wrongful death lawyers can help you recover a fair compensation. District of Columbia laws define wrongful death as death caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person or corporation.” This includes, but is not limited to, death from injuries caused in a car accident, defective products, slip and fall incidents and truck accidents.
Losing a loved one is a tragedy and you will understandably be grieving at the time. However, it is important to hold accountable the party whose negligence caused the loss. Before you can file a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to understand the District of Columbia laws and potential damages you can recover. Here’s a look at these.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases
The District of Columbia has a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. This means that if you wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must do so within two years of the date of the death. The statute was previously set at one year but the period was expanded to two years in 2012.
It is possible to file a damages lawsuit against a negligent person or entity even if authorities pursue criminal charges at the same time. The presence of criminal charges does not affect the statute for wrongful death claims.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in District of Columbia?
When a person dies in a wrongful death incident, a number of survivors, relatives or next-of-kin qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, there is a hierarchy of priorities and it is according to this that the survivors of the deceased have a right to compensation.
The first priority for filing a suit belongs to the domestic partner or spouse of the deceased. The lawsuit itself must be filed by a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. In case the deceased leaves behind no partner or spouse, the next-of-kin are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their own. Next-of-kin can include the parents, children or siblings of the deceased.
If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death incident but are not sure who is entitled to file a lawsuit, it is best to consult Washington DC wrongful death lawyers. An attorney will clear up your rights as well as those of any other parties in a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Are Damages Allocated In a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If compensatory damages are awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit, there are two ways to allocate it. The damages are primarily paid to the deceased person’s estate if the person leaves behind a will or an estate plan. The estate is then responsible for distributing them to the spouse, domestic partner, children, parents, siblings or next-of-kin of the deceased. The proportion of the damages will be according to the loss each party has suffered.
If a will or estate plan does not exist, D.C. law stipulates that the damages be paid in the following proportion:
- 100% to the spouse in the absence of any parents or children
- 6% to the spouse and the rest to the children if the children also belong to the spouse
- 50% to the spouse and the rest to the children if the children do not belong to the spouse
- 75% to the spouse if there are no children but at least one surviving parent
- 100% to the parents in the absence of any children or spouse
- 100% to the siblings if there are no children, parents or spouse
If you are not sure what portion of damages you are entitled to in a wrongful death lawsuit, you should consult Washington D.C. wrongful death lawyers.
What Damages Are Covered in Washington D.C. Wrongful Death Claim?
Damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit are calculated by considering the loss suffered by the spouse, partner or next-of-kin of the deceased. The damages, ultimately awarded by a judge or a jury, aim to compensate the claimant for such loss. Depending on the facts of the case, the following types of damages may be recovered in a wrongful death claim in Washington, D.C.:
- Medical costs. If the deceased person received emergency care and other medical treatment for the injury that led to death, damages may cover the full medical costs.
- Lost wages and benefits. The court calculates the wages and benefits the deceased may have earned had he or she lived to an average age.
- Funeral Costs. Wrongful death damages cover funeral and burial costs as well.
- Other Losses. Other damages may consider the support and care the deceased may have provided to the survivors had he or she been alive.
- Pain and Suffering. Washington D.C. does not allow the surviving family members to recover non-economic damages for pain, suffering, grief and loss of love in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Unlike many other jurisdictions across United States, Washington, D.C. has no limit or cap on the amount of damages that can be rewarded in a wrongful death claim.
How Can Washington DC Wrongful Death Lawyers Help You?
If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death incident, it is important that you hire a qualified wrongful death attorney. Wrongful death cases can be fairly complicated and you will likely face the legal counsel of the defendant when you file such a claim. This is why it is very important to have reliable legal help by your side.
Here at TorkLaw, we have an extensive experience of handling Washington, D.C. wrongful death claims. We understand the laws that apply to such claims as well as any exceptions in statutes and other aspects of the lawsuit. Our attorneys work with you to calculate the maximum amount of damages you can recover in a wrongful death claim. We also help you file the claim at the earliest so that there are no unnecessary delays. Contact us today to book a FREE consultation with our attorneys.