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Can You Sue for Wrongful Death After a Car Accident in Maryland?


Losing a loved one can be painful in so many ways.  the grieving process can be long and arduous.  But you should know that there are legal options available that might make you and your family more comfortable in this difficult time.
The family members of a loved one who has passed away in a car accident may file a wrongful death lawsuit against whoever caused the accident.  A wrongful death suit is a lot like a personal injury lawsuit except that it benefits the family members of the deceased.  Spouses, parents, and children are all primary beneficiaries of a wrongful death lawsuit.  Secondary beneficiaries may not recover if there are any living primary beneficiaries.  You only have three years from the time of the death to file your wrongful death lawsuit.
If you are interested in finding out more about the benefits of a wrongful death lawsuit after a car accident in Maryland, you should contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras immediately.  Our Baltimore wrongful death car accident lawyers have built our reputation fighting for grieving families just like yours, and we are ready to help you.  Call us for a free consultation at (410) 694-7291.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death After a Car Accident in Maryland?

Maryland law limits the parties who can benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit.  the law separates the individuals into two tiers by relation to the deceased: primary beneficiaries and secondary beneficiaries.

Primary Beneficiaries

In a wrongful death lawsuit, a parent, child, or spouse of the deceased may file and benefit from the lawsuit.  There is no limit on the number of primary beneficiaries that may be named in the lawsuit.  the primary beneficiary filing the wrongful death lawsuit is obligated to use their “best efforts” to identify and notify all possible primary beneficiaries about the lawsuit so that they may join as beneficiaries.  If they choose not to join, the lawsuit may still be filed, but it is usually best to name all beneficiaries.

Secondary Beneficiaries

A secondary beneficiary is someone who is related to the deceased through either blood or marriage and was substantially dependent on the deceased.  Secondary beneficiaries may not file wrongful death lawsuits if there are primary beneficiaries who could file.  However, if there are no surviving primary beneficiaries, Maryland law allows a secondary beneficiary to file a wrongful death lawsuit after a car accident.  Typically, secondary beneficiaries are brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or cousins of the deceased.  Secondary beneficiaries must be “substantially dependent” upon the deceased.  This qualification can be construed broadly, so you should consult one of our Maryland wrongful death car accident lawyers to determine whether you would satisfy this category.

How to Prove Wrongful Death in a Car Accident in Maryland

Proving a wrongful death after a car accident is a lot like proving a personal injury after a car accident, except that the plaintiff in a wrongful death claim is a family member (or members) of the deceased instead of the injured party themselves.
You will have to show that the defendant – usually the other driver – negligently or recklessly caused the lethal car accident.  A driver who violates the rules of the road is assumed to be negligent or reckless for these purposes.  Examples of such violations include breaking the speed limit or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
You will also have to prove that the driver’s negligent or reckless conduct was the cause of death.  If there was some superseding cause of the death, you will not be able to succeed in your lawsuit.  For example, if the deceased was involved in an accident and then struck by lightning while waiting by the side of the road, the lightning strike would likely be seen as a superseding cause of the death.
Superseding causes could also be contributory negligence on the part of the deceased.  For instance, if the accident occurred because the deceased and another driver were drag racing, the other driver’s recklessness will not matter because the deceased was contributorily negligent.

How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Car Accident in Maryland?

If you hope to sue for the wrongful death of a loved one after a car accident in Maryland, you don’t have long to wait.  Every state has a law that limits the amount of time potential plaintiffs have to file their wrongful death lawsuit.  This law is called the statute of limitations.  In Maryland, the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits after car accidents is three years from the date of the victim’s death.  This means that you have three years from the day your loved one passed away to file your wrongful death lawsuit.
While this may seem like a long time, the deadline can sneak up on you.  Preparing a wrongful death lawsuit can be a complicated undertaking.  You and your Maryland wrongful death car accident lawyer will have to compile evidence such as police reports, financial documents, and medical records.  You will also have to identify and notify all other possible family members for the purposes of naming them as beneficiaries in the lawsuit.
Do not make the mistake of waiting until the last second to file your lawsuit.  Our Mount Airy wrongful death car accident attorneys are ready and waiting to assist you throughout the process.

Interested in Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Maryland Car Accident? We Can Help

You deserve legal help when dealing with the death of a loved one.  the Towson wrongful death car accident attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras can be the difference in your fight for justice.  For a free consultation on your potential case, call us at (410) 694-7291.