Wrongful Deaths

About Wrongful Deaths

Washington, D.C. wrongful death cases typically involve two separate but related legal claims. One legal claim is brought under the Survival Act. Its primary purpose is to recover damages for a deceased person’s pre-death pain and suffering, as well as for income the deceased reasonably could have expected to earn in the future had he or she survived. A Survival Act claim is brought by the personal representative of a deceased person’s Estate, and Survival Act awards recovered by the Estate are distributed to the Estate’s legal beneficiaries.

The second legal claim is brought under the Wrongful Death Act. One of its purposes is to recover damages for post-death economic losses, including damages for lost services, suffered by specified family members and dependents of the deceased person. Additional claims under the Wrongful Death Act can include, among others, damages for a surviving spouse’s loss of consortium and for a minor child’s loss of parental care, comfort, guidance, and attention. As with Survival Act claims, Wrongful Death Act claims are typically brought by the personal representative of a deceased person’s Estate. Wrongful Death Act awards, however, are distributed to individual Wrongful Death claimants, not the Estate. In many cases, specified family members of a deceased person can receive both Survival act and Wrongful Death Act awards.

Experience and Track Record

Washington, D.C. wrongful death attorney Douglas Sparks has handled about fifty Wrongful Death lawsuits for families whose loved ones died due to negligent or purposeful misconduct of others. In virtually every such case, he recovered money for his clients. Mr. Sparks works very hard in Wrongful Death cases to achieve results that both honor a family’s deceased member and provide monetary benefits and opportunities for surviving families. For example, he has structured tax free settlements to fund college tuition for siblings, provide retirement income for spouses, and enable families to purchase homes. You can read news coverage of several Wrongful Death cases Mr. Sparks has handled here. You can also read reviews from some Wrongful Death clients here.

Representative Cases Handled by Douglas Sparks
  • A daycare center was paid to pick up a single mother’s two young boys after school and escort them to the daycare center until their mother got home from work. One afternoon, a daycare employee picked up the children from school, but did not take them directly to daycare. Instead, the employee walked them through a public housing complex frequented by young men riding unlicensed motor bikes. One child was struck and killed, and the other child barely dodged the motorbike that killed his brother. Washington, D.C. wrongful death lawyer Douglas Sparks filed suit against the daycare center and the public housing complex. Both defendants denied liability and filed motions to dismiss the case. After Mr. Sparks won both motions, the defendants settled before trial. Mr. Sparks structured the settlements to provide tax free income for the surviving boy’s future needs and education as well as money to enable the children’s mother to find better and safer housing. Read more about this case  here.

  • A Washington, D.C. woman went to court and got a restraining order against her abusive ex-boyfriend. Shortly thereafter, the woman left her young children with their grandmother while she went on a date. Hours later, the ex-boyfriend tried to break into the grandmother’s residence. She called 911 several times, but police failed to investigate. The man was still lurking outside when the woman returned home. He dragged her into an alley where he stabbed her to death. The deceased woman’s grandmother was left to raise her daughter’s young children. She retained Mr. Sparks, who filed suit against the D.C. police department for failing to protect a domestic violence victim. Ultimately, Mr. Sparks negotiated a substantial structured settlement for the deceased woman’s children. This is the only reported case in D.C. holding the police liable for failing to protect a known domestic violence victim. Read more about this case here.

  • A young man detained at the D.C. jail on nonviolent charges suffered a heart attack and collapsed in full view of correctional officers. All officers were required to know first aid and CPR, including how to recognize life threatening medical emergencies and how to respond to them. The officers in this case failed to render CPR, timely summon emergency medical personnel, or call for an AED to resuscitate the man because they were untrained and uncertified. The man died, leaving behind a young daughter. Mr. Sparks filed suit against the D.C. Department of Corrections and exposed the city’s systemic indifference to its detainees. The matter settled shortly before trial, with the man’s young daughter receiving a steady stream of future income. Additionally, the city trained and certified its entire correctional workforce in first aid, CPR, and the use of AEDs. The new Director of Corrections also met privately with Mr. Sparks and the man’s mother. He apologized and explained the major systemic reforms he had implemented in the wake of her son’s death. The case received extensive press coverage, which you can read here.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to another’s carelessness, you should call Washington, D.C. wrongful death attorney Douglas Sparks at (202) 797-8200, fill out his online case inquiry form, or email him at dsparks@sparkslaw.net.