Have Questions About Wrongful Death?

Wrongful Death FAQ

Simeone & Miller, LLP are Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC Wrongful Death Attorneys, but can I also call them for assistance with cases in other jurisdictions?

Definitely. Many times, an attorney is needed to determine the proper jurisdiction in which to bring a wrongful death claim. This area of law is known as "choice of law" and can be complicated, particularly in complex cases such as wrongful death. Simeone & Miller, LLP offers free consultations and has an extensive track record of success in wrongful death cases. We are experienced in "choice of law" as well as the many other intricacies involved in pursuing wrongful death cases. Call us immediately and we will provide you and your family with the care, experience and professionalism you need.

I believe my loved one died as a result of negligence, what should I do first?

Contact Simeone & Miller, LLP immediately. You need advice, and you need it now. A wrongful death case constitutes a specific type of legal circumstance and cannot be prejudged by a lay person. This is particularly true when an accident has occurred. Moreover, in many jurisdictions, a wrongful death case must be filed sooner than other cases.

A common example is if a loved one died as a result of a surgical procedure or other medical issue. It is possible that your attorney may determine that the best course of action is to file suit for medical malpractice rather than wrongful death. However, your attorneys can best make that determination, and we can only do that if you contact us right away.

When is it appropriate to file a wrongful death case?

Wrongful death refers to an incident where another party’s negligence, misconduct, or carelessness resulted in the victim’s death. Intent to kill is not needed to file for wrongful death, but you must demonstrate that the defendant was strictly liable for the victim’s death or acted negligently, which led to the death of the victim. You can also take the decedents’ family and dependents into consideration. If these individuals sustained emotional or financial damages, you may have a case.

What is meant by "misconduct?"

Misconduct refers to the conduct that directly resulted in wrongful death. Misconduct can be an act of momentary negligence or carelessness, or it could be an intentional or reckless act. It can be the act of a single person or of a corporation, or of an employee or representative of a government institution. The law provides for the compensation of the survivors when a wrongful death occurs, just as it provides for compensation of victim(s) who may have been injured by similar misconduct.

Who is allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

The representative allowed to bring a wrongful death suit is defined by the state. In some states, it may be a spouse or a child. In some states, grandparents or other relatives may also be allowed to bring a lawsuit.

Some states have enacted restrictions on filing when one family member would be suing another family member for the wrongful death of a third family member. We will help you establish your rights and represent you accordingly.

How are damages determined in wrongful death cases?

The losses or damages vary somewhat from state to state. They also are dependent upon the relationship of the survivor to the deceased. For example, a spouse is usually entitled to compensation for the loss of love, affection, companionship, support, and services of the deceased for the period of their joint life expectancy. Another example would be a child who is entitled to recover for the loss of the guidance, affection, support, and services of the deceased.

How do I determine the wrongful death laws in my state?

Wrongful death statutes were drafted independently of each other and are often vary from state to state. However, they all follow the same general principles. A wrongful death claim generally consists of four elements:

  • the death was caused, in whole or part, by the conduct of the defendant.
  • the defendant was negligent or strictly liable for the victim's death,
  • there is a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries or dependents; and
  • monetary damages have resulted from the victim's death.

Clearly, wrongful death circumstances are complicated issues and you will need help establishing and organizing the facts to present to a judge and jury. Simeone & Miller, LLP can explain the laws applicable to your state and help you navigate the maze of complexities.

What losses are covered by law?

In general, losses suffered by the decedent's spouse, children, or next of kin, include:

  • loss of financial support
  • loss of service
  • loss of gifts or other valuable gratuities
  • loss of parental training and guidance
  • loss of society and companionship

Statute typically governs the allocation of damages between heirs of the decedent, and these statutes are subject to oversight from the court. To determine how damages will be dispersed, the court will adhere to “intestate succession” laws. Every case is different, but the court usually has the authority to give damages to family members who normally would not receive the money.