Essex, MD Wrongful Death Lawyer

Nothing is more tragic than losing a loved one to another person’s negligence. Not only is their presence missing from your life, but the financial and emotional support they provide is also gone.

When the unthinkable occurs, you can recover compensation for your and your family’s losses in a wrongful death lawsuit. Spouses, children, and other immediate family members have a right by law to recover damages sustained from the loss of their loved one.

However, other family members might have a right to sue if they were supported by the deceased. While the compensation for wrongful death can be substantial, the amount you recover could be capped depending on the amount you are awarded.

Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 for a free case assessment with our wrongful death lawyers.

What is Wrongful Death in Essex, MD

In Essex and throughout Maryland, victims who have lost a loved one can file a lawsuit for their losses under Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art. § 3-901(e). According to the law, if a person’s action or negligence leads to the death of another person, they can be held responsible for wrongful death.

Our wrongful death attorneys can review your case to determine if your loved one’s death falls under this law. Both intentional and unintentional acts can cause wrongful deaths, but most commonly occur due to negligence. It is important to note that in civil court, the negligent party can still be held liable for wrongful death even if they are not criminally charged.

Parties that Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Essex, MD

According to Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., § 3-904(a)(1), spouses, parents, or children of a deceased person are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person responsible for causing their loved one’s death.

It is crucial for each beneficiary to understand that they have a distinct and separate right to file a wrongful death claim. This separate right ensures that family members who may have lost touch with one another are still able to take legal action.

While a family member has the right to file a wrongful death claim separately and independently, it is necessary for the filing beneficiary to inform any other qualifying parties about the impending litigation. Failure to provide notice to a family member with an interest in the outcome of the lawsuit would be considered unfair and could cause issues in the future.

If there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent of the deceased, it is permissible under Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., § 3-904(b) for any other person related to the deceased by blood or marriage to file a wrongful death claim. However, to qualify, the person must have been substantially dependent on the deceased while they were alive.

If you have lost a close family member who did not have immediate family, you might be entitled under Maryland law to file a wrongful death claim only if your relationship with the deceased was such that you were highly reliant on them in life.

Damages You Could Recover in a Wrongful Death Case in Essex, MD

When a loved one passes away, their survivors will be entitled to damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. In Maryland, damages can be categorized as pecuniary or non-pecuniary, which is simply a complex way of saying economic and non-economic.

In the event of a loved one’s passing, family members typically suffer great financial losses, known as pecuniary damages. These damages usually include medical bills incurred from the injuries that caused their death, as well as the financial assistance that the deceased would have provided if they were still alive.

Furthermore, any inheritance that the deceased might have left for their surviving family members can be considered as part of these damages. Funeral and burial expenses are also typically taken into account in your pecuniary losses.

Calculating non-pecuniary damages can be challenging as they are subjective losses resulting from wrongful death. These damages include the pain and suffering of the deceased from their injury until death, as well as the mental anguish experienced by surviving family members.

Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., § 3-904(d), allows surviving family members to claim other non-pecuniary damages such as loss of society and companionship, loss of comfort and protection, and loss of marital, parental, and filial care.

Damages Cap in Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Essex, MD

It is unfortunate that Maryland imposes a limit on the damages that can be recovered by surviving family members in a wrongful death lawsuit. The specific cap varies depending on the nature of the lawsuit and the number of beneficiaries involved. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that these caps are subject to annual increases.

In 2023, Maryland limited the amount of non-pecuniary damages awarded to $2,300,000 for a wrongful death lawsuit. If multiple surviving family members file a lawsuit, the cap is set at $1,380,000 per claimant. Fortunately, there is no limit on economic damages that can be awarded if the lawsuit is successful.

Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Essex, MD

If you are planning on filing a wrongful death claim, it is important to be aware of the statute of limitations. In Essex, according to Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art. § 3-904, you have three years from the date of the incident to file your lawsuit.

However, three years might not be enough time to gather all the necessary evidence, as wrongful death cases can be complicated and require evidence from multiple sources. It is crucial to file your lawsuit before the deadline, as failing to do so will result in the court dismissing your claim.

There are circumstances that could provide an extension for filing your wrongful death claim. For instance, if a wrongful death results in criminal charges, a civil suit usually cannot commence until the criminal prosecution concludes.

Additionally, if the estate of the deceased has not undergone probate, it can take up to five years longer to file, depending on the speed of the probate court.

Waiting for a criminal prosecution to conclude before filing your lawsuit could be helpful, however. First, it will give a good indication of the chances of success your case will have if the prosecution is successful.

Also, much of the same evidence used in a criminal case will be relevant to your civil case. We can help obtain this evidence after the criminal case concludes so that it is included when your civil lawsuit is filed.

Further, if the person responsible for the wrongful death is convicted of a crime, it is possible to get their conviction admitted as evidence, which will be immensely helpful in proving liability in your case.

Our Essex, MD Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help

For a free case consultation with our wrongful death attorneys, contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (443) 339-8368 today.