DC Wrongful Death Cases: Settlements

Reaching a settlement in a DC wrongful death case can be very helpful. However, certain complexities raise questions on settlements for these types of cases because the wronged party has already passed. As a result, it is usually a family member that survives him or her pursuing the case. Speak with one of our DC wrongful death lawyers to discuss how these issues may impact your case. 

Settling DC Wrongful Death Cases In & Out of Court

Each wrongful death case in DC is handled differently. However, the overwhelming majority of all civil cases, not just wrongful death claims, are settled without a trial. If a client intends to pursue a claim they should expect to see the claim through trial. However, the reality is that a majority of these types of claims settle without the necessity of a trial.   

Advantages of Settling Out of Court

One of the advantages to settling a case, as opposed to proceeding to trial, is the certainty of the outcome. When a case is settled in DC, the settlement must be agreed upon by both parties. Therefore, the injured party knows the amount that he/she is going to receive in a settlement. Conversely, at trial, it is beyond the control of the injured party to determine the amount of compensation. At trial, it is the judge or the jury that determines the amount of compensation. Therefore, when an injured person proceeds to trial, the person must understand that there is no guarantee that the jury will award more than the amount offered to settle the case. 

A common phrase used to describe a settlement offer is the old adage, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The meaning of the adage is: even though the settlement amount for a DC wrongful death case may be lower than what a court would potentially award, it is worth more to the injured party because it is guaranteed money. Additionally, if a case has to be tried, there are additional expenses necessary with potential expert witness costs and other necessary expenditures that will ultimately be taken out of any award given by a jury. Mathematically, even if the jury were to award slightly more than the settlement offer, the injured person may actually take home less money because of the costs of trial. Make sure to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney in DC if you would like to learn more about settling such a case.

Survivor Compensation For Someone Else’s Suffering

Compensation is paid in two different ways in these cases. Survival claims are claims brought on behalf of the decedent by the decedent‘s personal representative to recover any damages the decedent would have been entitled to recover. These damages are paid into the decedent’s estate, not directly to any one person. Therefore, this allows for the estate to recover on behalf of the decedent. In fairness, the legislature has developed a method of recovery for the decedent. Otherwise, if a person were killed, the offending party would not be responsible at all.   

Wrongful death claims are claims brought by close family members to recover pecuniary damages for the loss of support the decedent would have provided had he/she not been killed. Therefore, the wrongful death claim is paid to the surviving family members to recover losses that they incurred because of the death of a family member.