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Can You File a Lawsuit if a Family Member Dies in Maryland?

Losing a family member before their time can be tragic, and it can completely change the lives of everyone in your family. Spouses, parents, and children who suffer a loss could have new financial needs, new emotional struggles, and everyday life changes that put a high financial burden on them alongside the mental and emotional toll of the loss. the Maryland wrongful death lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras explain what circumstances need to be met to file a lawsuit for a family member’s death and which family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Maryland.

When Can You Sue for a Family Member’s Death in Maryland?

There are many different situations where someone’s death can lead to a lawsuit. Deaths from illness and old age typically do not have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, while obviously “wrongful” deaths like murders do. However, there are also many of other types of accidents and injuries that can lead to death that also allow a victim’s surviving family to sue.


As mentioned, deaths from illness and old age do not typically allow a family to sue for a loved one’s death, but there are some exceptions. When someone is sick but they are not receiving the proper care or treatment because their doctor misdiagnosed them, failed to diagnose them, or committed some other type of medical malpractice, their eventual death could be the doctor’s fault. Additionally, if someone got sick because of unsafe conditions at work, dangerous side effects from medication, or some other exposure to dangerous substances, their family may be able to sue the companies responsible for that exposure.


Car accidents, falls, workplace injuries, and other accidental injuries could lead to death or serious injury. In many of these cases, we call what happened an “accident,” but there might still be an individual or a company that is responsible for the events. For instance, a negligent driver could have caused a loved one’s death in a car accident. In other accidents, a negligent employer, product manufacturer, or property owner could be at fault, to name a few examples.

Intentional Injury

If someone assaulted a loved one and it ended in death, they could be responsible for their actions. Obviously, intentional murder and assault are crimes in Maryland, but victims and their families can also file civil lawsuits against the perpetrator of the crime. If your loved one was murdered or died under suspicious circumstances where someone might be responsible, a civil lawsuit also has a lower burden of proof than a murder case. In these cases, you only need to prove that the death was the defendant’s fault, not that they actually intended to cause the death. You also need to prove that it was more likely than not that they were at fault, not that it is “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they were responsible.

Other Examples of Negligence

People can also die because of other situations involving negligence. Negligent care at a nursing home or daycare could result in tragic accidents or complications the responsible parties could be sued for. Negligent construction or repairs could also lead to fire hazards, building collapses, and other incidents that could result in wrongful death suits. Lastly, dangerous products could spark fires or cause injuries, or defective safety gear could fail when it is needed most. Talk to our Aberdeen wrongful death lawyers if there were any accidents and how to go about proving negligence in an injury lawsuit for your loved one’s death.

Who Can Sue for a Loved One’s Wrongful Death in Maryland?

Maryland law limits who can sue for someone’s death. In older times, there may have been different parties that could sue for someone’s death, maybe even including lords and landlords. In modern times, the list is limited to the point where it can actually hinder many families. Talk to a Towson wrongful death attorney about whether you are entitled to sue for a loved one’s death.

In most cases, the deceased’s spouse, children, or parents can sue after a wrongful death. These are the people most immediately affected by the death, and they are also the ones typically listed as beneficiaries on a deceased’s will (or, if someone dies without a will, they would be the ones to receive an inheritance under Maryland’s intestacy statute). Unfortunately, the law may prevent many important people from suing, such as grandparents, siblings, nieces/nephews, and other people. Even if the deceased would have considered these people “family,” the law might not.

Typically, the law does allow the deceased’s “secondary beneficiaries” to come forward and file a wrongful death claim if there are no parents, children, or spouses to file the claim. This could allow siblings, nieces/nephews, and others to come forward and make a claim for their loved one’s death. Damages could also potentially be paid to the deceased’s estate, which would then pass to other loved ones under the terms of their will (if they had a will).

The damages that are paid in these cases depend on what type of claim is filed. Beneficiaries can file a “survival” action to pay the deceased’s estate for things like pain and suffering and other damages the deceased faced before dying. They can also file “wrongful death” actions to get benefits for themselves, such as lost wages and lost companionship after a loved one’s death. Talk to a Gaithersburg wrongful death lawyer about what type of case to file; many families end up filing both lawsuits after a loved one’s death in Maryland.

Call Our Wrongful Death Lawyers in Maryland for a Free Case Consultation

If you lost a loved one to an accident or other circumstances in Maryland that show there is someone to blame for the death, our Maryland personal injury attorneys may be able to help. Call our Maryland wrongful death case referral attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras for a free legal consultation and more information about how to sue for the death of a loved one in Maryland. Call us today at (410) 694-7291.