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Everything You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Claims

Dealing with the death of a loved one is never an easy experience. From hearing about the news to planning funeral arrangements, the process of dealing with loss is often a long, winding road that bears challenges and difficulties one must deal with. If your loved one passed away because of the fault or negligence of another person, then the entire experience of dealing with the aftermath can be even more difficult. This is especially true when you get to the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family member or friend. 

What is a wrongful death claim?

Before we talk about what you can expect from the wrongful death claim filing process, it’s important to know it in further detail before all else. A wrongful death claim is a special lawsuit that is sought whenever someone dies as a result of a defendant’s negligent or intentional act. 

With these claims, pursuant parties or the estate of a deceased are capable of filing a lawsuit against the party who is legally liable for the death. While every state’s wrongful death laws vary,  these types of lawsuits must be filed by a representative of the deceased person’s estate on behalf of surviving family members in the states of Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia. 

When are you capable of seeking legal action?

There are specific situations wherein wrongful death claims are applicable, which dispels the misconception that they can be sought for an instance wherein a loved one passes away. Here are various examples of such situations that are considered as credible bases for seeking legal action on behalf of a deceased: 

  • When a victim is intentionally killed under the premise of wrongful deaths (such as homicide or murder)
  • Vehicular accident fatalities (such as hit-and-runs and drunk driving)
  • Medical malpractice
  • Worksite accidents

What needs to be proven when pursuing someone for a wrongful death claim?

If you find that the circumstances in which a loved one lost their life qualify as an eligible case for a wrongful death claim, it’s important that you understand what must be proven before pursuing legal action. According to the general scope of American law, plaintiffs in a claim must meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have had to meet if they lived to hold a defendant liable. 

In the case of negligence, the aforementioned responsibility involves showing that:

  • The defendant owed the victim a duty of care
  • The defendant breached this duty
  • The breach of duty was a direct and proximate cause of the death
  • The death caused the damages that the plaintiff is trying to recover.

What are the kinds of damages you can pursue?

When it comes to understanding the merit of pursuing a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one, there are several actionable items and opportunities that you can pursue just compensation. By letting a legal expert like Zuckerberg & Halperin’s professionals represent you during a filing, here are the various forms of restitution that may be made available:

  • The deceased person’s pre-death “pain and suffering” (this is often called a “survival” claim)
  • The medical treatment costs that the deceased victim incurred as a result of the injury prior to death
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of the deceased person’s expected income
  • Loss of any inheritance as a result of the death
  • Value of the services that the deceased would have provided
  • Loss of care, guidance, and nurturing that the deceased would have provided
  • Loss of love and companionship
  • Loss of consortium


Dealing with the death of a loved one can be a painful process that you’ll struggle with and a challenging one once you decide to pursue a defendant for a wrongful death claim. By taking this guide into consideration, you’ll be able to approach the litigation process from the most informed perspective possible for the best results!

Wrongful death cases can be stressful, especially if you’re worried about handling the legal and logistical paperwork for your claim. This is why our expert attorneys are ready to oversee and handle your case for you. If you need a personal injury lawyer in DC, get in touch with us today for a free consultation!

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