Losing a loved one to the negligent actions of another can leave you grief-stricken, shocked, and uncertain about the future. You and your family are often faced with numerous financial, practical, and legal challenges. The wrongful death attorneys at May Lightfoot, PLLC, understand the complex issues you are facing and want to help you seek justice for your family and your loved one.
At May Lightfoot, PLLC, we know no amount of money can bring back your loved one; however, the law protects the rights of and compensates victims who suffer a loss due to another person’s negligence. It is through this compensation that reckless individuals and organizations are held responsible when they cause a person’s untimely death.
When you retain the wrongful death attorneys at May Lightfoot, PLLC, for your counsel, you hire attorneys who are:
- Zealous advocates for our clients who have lost loved ones in tragic accidents or due to the malicious actions of another;
- Dedicated to getting families in the Washington area and throughout the District of Columbia the maximum compensation possible to help their family move forward;
- Skilled and experienced in all facets of wrongful death law in Washington, D.C.; and
- Determined to hold those responsible for wrongful deaths accountable for their actions.
Contact May Lightfoot, PLLC, today if you are dealing with the devastation of a loved one’s wrongful death. Our wrongful death attorneys will seek the justice and compensation you deserve. Call our Washington office at (202) 919-6463 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
A Washington, D.C., Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You
Wrongful death cases are complex and often confusing for someone unfamiliar with the personal injury or wrongful death claims process. Insurance companies are not on your side and have teams of adjusters and attorneys battling against you every step of the claims process. Any number of obstacles may arise, causing your claim to be delayed or denied by the insurance company.
The first most critical step in pursuing a wrongful death claim is hiring a qualified and experienced Washington, D.C., wrongful death attorney like ours at May Lightfoot, PLLC. Our wrongful death attorneys have the skills and resources to do the following and more on your behalf:
- Research your loved one’s death;
- Determine the identity of the party at fault;
- Locate any necessary documentation and supporting evidence;
- Assess the value of your case;
- Interview witnesses;
- Gather your loved one’s medical records and bills; and
- Work with needed experts to strengthen your claim.
While most wrongful death claims settle outside of court, the attorneys at May Lightfoot, PLLC, will fiercely advocate for you in trial whenever necessary. Contact us in Washington, D.C., today to discuss the facts of your case and how to begin the wrongful death claims process.
The sooner we start work on your case, the faster we can bring you and your family a resolution and help to close this chapter of your lives.
What is a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death, as defined by Washington, D.C., statute is a death caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person or corporation. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit meant to compensate those family members left behind after a fatal accident through money damages.
A representative of a deceased person’s estate might have a valid basis for a wrongful death lawsuit if the death was a direct result of another person’s or organization’s negligent or intentional actions. Wrongful death lawsuits may relate to any personal injury case including, but not limited to:
- Car accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Defective products;
- Lack of proper security;
- Medical malpractice;
- Birth injuries;
- Nursing home abuse and neglect;
- Slips and falls;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Murder; and
- Aviation accidents.
A wrongful death lawsuit is not a criminal case. A criminal case involving death is a homicide case. The state brings a homicide case against the perpetrator of the crime to punish them with jail, prison, probation, or another state-sanctioned method. The only means of recovery in a civil wrongful death case is money damages.
What is a Survival Action?
A wrongful death lawsuit is separate from a survival action. A survival action bases its recovery on the suffering of the deceased person while a wrongful death lawsuit focuses on the grief and financial losses of the family. In a survival action, the deceased’s estate recovers damages for the pain and suffering of the deceased as well as compensation for any medical bills and lost earnings.
The money in a survival action does not go directly to the surviving family members. Instead, any compensation is paid to the deceased person’s estate then flows through to the family after any outstanding estate expenses or debts are paid.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Washington, D.C.?
In a wrongful death case or a survival action, the deceased can no longer bring a claim for money damages on his or her own behalf. Therefore, someone with legal standing, or the ability to file a lawsuit in court, must step in to file the wrongful death claim or survival action for them. In Washington, D.C., the personal representative or executor of the deceased person’s estate must be the one to file either claim.
If the person died without an estate plan or will naming a personal representative, or if the named personal representative cannot serve, the court may appoint one. A surviving spouse or domestic partner, or children of the deceased may be appointed as personal representative.
It is possible for extended relatives to file a wrongful death lawsuit or survival action when no close relatives exist. Either way, the personal representative generally has two years from the date of the victim’s death to file a wrongful death claim.
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim in Washington, D.C.
To prove a wrongful death claim and receive compensation for their losses, a family’s attorney must show that the negligent party or wrongdoer was strictly liable for their loved one’s death or that negligence played a significant role in their death. This requires proving the following four elements:
- The defendant’s actions caused the victim’s death, either in part or in entirety;
- Negligence or liability on the part of the defendant can be shown to cause the death;
- The deceased is survived by dependents, a spouse, children, or beneficiaries; and
- The death has caused financial damages to survivors or beneficiaries.
Compensation for a Wrongful Death Accident
Once a wrongful death claim is proven, money damages are awarded to the deceased person’s survivors to compensate them for their loved one’s death. In Washington D.C., these damages are primarily based on the financial losses suffered by the deceased person’s family and are paid to the surviving spouse or domestic partner and other close relatives.
Typically wrongful death damages include:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Accident-related medical bills;
- Lost wages and benefits the deceased person would likely have earned had he or she lived; and
- The loss of care, education, training, advice, and other services the deceased would have provided to his or her surviving family members.
Washington, D.C. Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims
In order to receive compensation in a wrongful death claim, the claim must be filed within a certain period of time, set by a law called a statute of limitations. In Washington, D.C., the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim or survival action is two years from the date of the person’s death. If the case is not filed before this deadline, recovery may be barred altogether.
The statute of limitations for a survival action may be more complicated and best discussed with an experienced wrongful death attorney for clarification on a case by case basis.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Prompt action is critical to obtaining fair damages after the death of a family member. At May Lightfoot, PLLC, we are well-versed in the courtroom tactics the opposition uses to attempt to limit their liability, and we counter their arguments with carefully planned responses designed to protect your rights. We work hard to demonstrate that you deserve to receive compensation for the loss of your loved one.
If you have questions about your ability to file a wrongful death claim or survival action, payment of medical bills and funeral costs, or any other related matters, call the attorneys at May Lightfoot, PLLC. At May Lightfoot, PLLC, we are here to provide answers to your questions and help you take action to secure your and your family’s future. Contact us today at (202) 919-6463 or contact us online to schedule a confidential case evaluation.