While dealing with the death of a loved one, family members may be dealing with a number of issues in their personal and financial world. If someone else’s negligence or recklessness caused the death, you may be interested in hearing about what you stand to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The reality is that each wrongful death case is different. Therefore, it is difficult to predict what a particular lawsuit might be worth without additional information, such as the deceased’s age, expected income, and life expectancy. Another critical factor will be the number of beneficiaries and their relationships with the deceased. You can obtain damages for expected financial contributions, medical and funeral costs, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering, amongst other theories, but only if you file your claim within the allotted time limit.
To file an effective wrongful death lawsuit properly and timely, we strongly recommend that you reach out to Rice, Murtha & Psoras as soon as possible. Our dedicated Baltimore wrongful death lawyers can help you get set up on a track to recovery for your tragic loss. To schedule a free initial consultation with us today, call our offices at (410) 694-7291.
Factors that Impact Damages for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland
If a wrongful death lawsuit succeeds, beneficiaries are awarded damages based on their losses in relation to the death of their loved one. Each wrongful death case contains different circumstances that can affect the compensation available. Important factors that may affect wrongful death damages may include the following:
- Age of the deceased
- Age of the individual beneficiaries
- Relationship between the deceased and beneficiaries
- Expected future earnings of the deceased
- Life expectancy of the deceased
- Nature of the wrongful death
- Conduct of the defendant that caused the death
Calculating Damages for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland
Maryland courts award damages based primarily on the wrongful death’s harms to the beneficiaries. Some of these harms are direct financial consequences, while others impact the beneficiaries’ psychological and emotional well-being. Below are some of the theories by which wrongful death damages are calculated in Maryland:
- Financial contributions that beneficiaries stood to gain from the deceased (income, benefits, etc.)
- Cost of deceased’s medical care due to wrongful act
- Cost of funeral and memorial services
- Loss of companionship and comfort
- Loss of care (marital, parental, or filial)
- Loss of advice, guidance, or education
- Pain and suffering
In instances where the defendant’s wrongful conduct was so wanton or heinous, punitive damages may also be available. Punitive damages are used to punish offenders and discourage the offense in other potential violators. Maryland courts are not obligated to award punitive damages in every case. These substantial awards are therefore rare, but you should not miss your chance to achieve justice for the death of a loved one.
Because calculating the non-economic aspects of damages can be difficult, expert testimony is often required in a wrongful death case. Financial experts can utilize their knowledge and resources to estimate the cumulative toll that the loss will have on each individual beneficiary. They will then present their estimates and underlying reasoning to the court for consideration. Our experienced Aberdeen wrongful death attorneys can help obtain qualified expert testimony for your case to provide you with the best chance of recovery.
Caps on Wrongful Death Damages in Maryland
The State of Maryland has passed legislation that limits the amount of certain damages in wrongful death claims. These limits apply to non-economic damages, or those that do not have direct amounts associated with them, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship.
In 2021, the state cap on wrongful death non-economic damages for cases with a single beneficiary is $845,000. For cases with multiple beneficiaries, available damages are increased to 150% of the single beneficiary cap. For example, for a lawsuit benefitting a surviving spouse and two children stemming from a death in 2021, non-economic damages would be capped at $1,267,500. Per the statute, cap amount increases by $15,000 on October 1 of each year.
Who Can Benefit from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland?
We have referenced “beneficiaries” several times already. A beneficiary in a wrongful death lawsuit is typically any surviving spouse, parent, or child of the deceased. You can name as many of these potential beneficiaries that exist in a wrongful death suit. it is your responsibility to make best efforts to identify and notify all potential beneficiaries of the potential lawsuit before filing.
If no spouse, parent, or child survives the deceased, the door opens to what we call “secondary beneficiaries.” To qualify as a beneficiary in a wrongful death lawsuit in Maryland without being a spouse, parent, or child, you must have been both related to the deceased through blood or marriage and also substantially dependent on the deceased (financially or otherwise).
If you have questions about your standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Maryland, speak to one of our Columbia wrongful death attorneys as soon as possible, because you may not have as long as you might think.
When is it Too Late to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland?
If you wait too long to file your wrongful death claim, the value of your lawsuit might actually be zero. This is because Maryland’s statute of limitations sets a definitive time limit on potential claims. Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of the death. If the plaintiff misses the deadline for filing the suit, the court will likely throw it out before you even have a chance to make your case.
There are very few exceptions to the statute of limitations. One such exception is known as the “occupational disease” rule. Under this exception, a death caused by exposure to toxic substances in the course of the deceased’s employment may extend the clock or delay the date that it starts running. If your case sounds like it may fall within the occupational disease rule, speak to a lawyer today to determine how long you have to file your suit.
Find Out More About the Value of Your Potential Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland Today
The Mount Airy wrongful death lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras offer free initial consultations to all new clients who are considering the prospect of pursuing their rightful recovery. To hear more, call us today at (410) 694-7291.