Dealing with Grief and Legalities: A Primer on Wrongful Death Cases

By Peter DePaolis

Discussing the emotional and legal aspects families go through when a loved one dies due to someone else’s negligence can be challenging. Each person grieves the loss of a family member in their own time and manner. However, statute limitations restrict the time to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Therefore, discussing the legal aspects of a wrongful death case with a D.C. wrongful death attorney is essential to protect your family’s legal rights to seek justice for your loved one.

Dealing With Grief After a Wrongful Death 

Losing a loved one is an emotional, traumatic event for family members. The grief caused by the death of a family member can be overwhelming. However, grief is a part of life and the normal response to sorrow, loss, and heartache. It is the process of learning to accept the loss and let go, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

According to the NIH, ways to cope with loss include:

  • Take care of yourself
  • Talk with friends
  • Try not to make significant changes soon after the loss of a loved one
  • Join a grief support group
  • Talk to your doctor
  • Consider professional support

You should also be patient. Everyone grieves at their own pace. Therefore, you should not base your experience on how someone else grieves.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Washington, D.C.

Wrongful death refers to a civil action family members can file when another party causes the death of their loved one. The claim compensates the family members for damages. A wrongful death lawsuit can arise from any type of personal injury case including, but not limited to:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Slip and fall accidents (premises liability)
  • Truck accidents
  • Defective products (product liability)
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Birth injuries
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Assault and murder

In Washington, DC, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate files a wrongful death lawsuit. Typically, the estate can receive damages for funeral expenses, lost wages, and medical bills. The family can also receive compensation for the loss of advice, education, care, training, and other services the deceased would have provided had they not died.

How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim in Washington, D.C.?

Proving a wrongful death claim requires the estate to prove the following legal elements of wrongful death:

  • The defendant’s actions caused or contributed to the cause of the victim’s death
  • The defendant was strictly liable or negligent in causing the victim’s death
  • The victim is survived by their spouse, children, dependents, or other beneficiaries 
  • The victim’s death has caused financial damages for the surviving dependents or beneficiaries

Wrongful death claims are complex personal injury cases. An experienced D.C. wrongful death lawyer gathers evidence and builds a strong case proving the legal elements to hold the at-fault party liable for damages caused by your loved one’s death. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our DC Personal Injury Attorney 

Did another party cause your loved one’s death because of negligence or intentional wrongdoing? If so, we want to help you hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. Contact our law firm to schedule a free case evaluation with our D.C. personal injury attorney.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.