When a loved one dies in an accident, the surviving family members may wonder how something so tragic could happen. However, when the accident was caused by someone's reckless or negligent behavior, the loss can be even more difficult to deal with. While a legal claim will do nothing to bring back a loved one, it can help when the family is able to do something to prevent someone else suffering a similar loss in the future.
Wrongful Death Claims
Traditionally, after someone died in an accident, they lost their ability to go after the person responsible for damages. However, the law created wrongful death claims, so that surviving family members could go after the person responsible, seeking compensation for their loss.
Under D.C. Code § 16–2701, if an individual died by injury due to another person's wrongful act, neglect, or default, they or their spouse or domestic partner can maintain an action for damages if they could have done so were the individual to have survived. The person or corporation responsible “is liable to an action for damages for the death, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, even though the death is caused under circumstances that constitute a felony.”
The damages available in such a claim are assessed with reference to the injury to the spouse, domestic partner, or next of kin. This includes costs associated with their injuries and burial. However, if the party injured recovered damages for the injury before death, they may not be able to maintain a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful Death Claims in DC
Any type of accident can lead to a wrongful death claim. Just like personal injury claims, negligent injuries can occur anywhere, including car accidents, workplace accidents, product defects, or intentional assaults. Workplace accidents and automobile accidents are some of the most common causes of wrongful death claims.
Automobile accidents involving a fatally injured driver or passenger can be some of the most difficult cases to handle. The only reliable witnesses may have tragically died in the accident. Without their voice, the only other source of information may be coming from the person who caused the accident.
After a deadly car crash, the surviving family members may learn about the death of a loved one from the police. However, they may have no real idea of what took place just before the crash. The insurance company and police department may not have any interest in discovering the truth of the accident. Instead, they may want to close the case and file the incident away. However, for the surviving spouse, children, or family of the deceased victim, they may want to know the truth.
An experienced personal injury attorney will look into the facts and circumstances surrounding the innocent victim's death. They will review police records, accident reports, medical records, and talk to witnesses to determine what really happened. In many cases, the truth behind the accident may reveal that someone else was at fault. However, unless the family of the victim works to find answers, the truth may never come out.
Most wrongful death claims have a 2-year statute of limitations in Washington D.C. This may sound like a lot of time; however, the loss of a loved one can take a lot of time to come to terms with. Initially, the family may not even know that another person or corporation was responsible for the injury. They may also have a hard time confronting the difficult truth that someone else caused the tragic accident.
Rather than try to deal with the loss on your own, talk to an experience DC personal injury attorney about a possible wrongful death claim. They will treat you with kindness and compassion in your time of need while making sure the person responsible for the loss is held accountable for their actions.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
In filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the family members may be seeking damages based on the economic losses related to the death of a loved one. They may also be seeking noneconomic damages for their own loss. Economic damages may include the loss of benefits, loss of support, or value of lost services. Noneconomic damages may include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and mental anguish.
When the person or corporation responsible for the loved one's death is faced with a lawsuit, they may try and get rid of the case through a fast settlement. In exchange, they will have the family members sign away their rights to sue for damages. Before accepting any settlement you should make sure you understand what you are giving up. Your attorney will advise you of your rights and help you determine whether a settlement offer is right for you and your family.
DC Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you lost a loved one in an accident or another tragic event in Washington D.C., you may have a wrongful death claim for damages. No amount of money can bring back your lost loved one; however, the individuals responsible for causing the death should be held responsible. A wrongful death claim can help to make sure the person responsible is held accountable so that others won't have to suffer a similar tragedy. Your personal injury attorney will help guide you through the difficult process. Call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.