Wrongful death cases are tragic and emotionally challenging legal situations that arise when someone’s negligence or intentional actions result in the death of another person. These cases can be complex and often involve significant financial and emotional damage to the surviving family members.
Mediation offers a valuable alternative to traditional litigation in wrongful death cases in Maryland. It provides a constructive and compassionate environment for parties to come together, discuss their concerns, and work towards a mutually agreeable resolution. With reduced emotional stress, preserved relationships, confidentiality, and flexibility, mediation can be a practical choice for all parties involved. If mediation fails, though, you will usually need to file a lawsuit to assert your losses.
Contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras today by calling (410) 694-7291 to receive your free case evaluation with our Maryland wrongful death lawyers.
Can I Choose Mediation Instead of Filing a Lawsuit in a Maryland Wrongful Death Case?
The decision on whether to resolve a case outside the court through private mediation is solely at the discretion of the parties involved. It is their responsibility to determine the best course of action based on their unique circumstances. If you choose, this option could be available in a wrongful death case. In mediation, a trained and unbiased third party, known as a mediator, facilitates communication between the parties to help them understand each other’s perspectives and come to an agreement if possible.
The process of mediation is voluntary and empowers the parties to decide what works best for them. However, it is still wise to work with our Baltimore wrongful death attorneys to determine exactly what terms you want from the mediation. The other party or insurance company has the right to reject the final terms of mediation, leaving the filing of a lawsuit as the only option to recover compensation.
Understanding the Mediation Process
The process of mediation is an alternative way of resolving disputes that allows the involved parties to come to an agreement outside of the courtroom. In mediation, a mediator facilitates a conversation between the parties to help them reach a mutually satisfactory resolution.
If the parties are unable to come to a solution that satisfies them, they cannot be compelled to agree to anything. The agreements that result from mediation are only legally binding when all parties are content with the terms and have signed the agreement.
Even if mediation is court-ordered, the parties are still not obligated to reach an agreement. If an agreement is not reached, the case can still proceed in court. Mediators are not required to testify about any discussions that took place during mediation and are expected to keep all information confidential.
Confidentiality is a crucial component of mediation. Any information shared during the mediation process is kept confidential and cannot be used in a court of law. However, there are a few exceptions, such as child abuse, imminent threats of harm to a person, or allegations of duress or fraud, that must be reported. If all parties agree, some agreements reached during mediation can also be kept confidential.
The principle of self-determination is central to mediation. This means that the parties involved in the dispute determine what solutions will work for them, not the mediator. The mediator remains impartial throughout the process and will not provide legal advice or make decisions about the dispute. Their role is to facilitate the discussion and help the parties reach a resolution that works for them.
What Happens if Mediation Does Not Work
In the event that one of the parties is not willing to resolve a claim through private mediation, the claimant is left with two options to consider. The first one is to file a lawsuit with the aim of obtaining a judgment. This involves bringing legal action in a court of law and presenting the case before a judge who will determine the outcome.
The second option is to simply not pursue the claim any further. These are the only two choices available if one party is not willing to enter into mediation. Keep in mind that litigation can be a lengthy and expensive process, so it is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each option carefully before making a decision.
What is the Legal Definition of Wrongful Death in Maryland?
As per Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art. § 3-901(e), a death that results from an act or neglect, including criminal acts, that would have entitled the injured party to bring a lawsuit and receive compensation if death had not occurred, is the legal definition of a “wrongful death” in Maryland.
Essentially, a wrongful death claim can be viewed as a personal injury claim that cannot be filed by the injured person because of their death. Instead, the bereaved family members or other representatives of the deceased person must initiate a wrongful death claim on their behalf. The primary objective of this legal action is to hold the responsible party accountable and obtain financial compensation for the losses suffered by the family members as a result of the untimely death.
Who Can Participate in Mediation or File a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death in Maryland?
Under Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art. § 3-904, only certain family members of a deceased person are entitled to participate in mediation or file a wrongful death lawsuit. These family members include the spouse, parents, or children of the deceased.
If none of these individuals survive the decedent, then any person who is related to the deceased by blood or marriage and was substantially dependent on the deceased for support and maintenance might file the wrongful death claim.
What Damages Can I Claim for Wrongful Death in Maryland?
In the event of a wrongful death case, damages are awarded to the surviving family members to compensate for the losses suffered because of the death. In Maryland, these damages can include compensation for various types of losses.
The deceased person’s financial contributions to the survivors, as well as their emotional pain and suffering, can be claimed. Additionally, the loss of society, companionship, comfort, and protection, loss of marital care, parental care, or filial care, and loss of attention, advice, counsel, training, guidance, or education can also be claimed. The court will determine the amount of damages to be awarded to each beneficiary based on the extent of their loss resulting from the death.
When it comes to wrongful death lawsuits in Maryland, there are certain limitations or caps that are imposed on non-economic damages. These damages are the ones that cannot be measured in terms of monetary value, such as the damages suffered because of mental anguish and loss of companionship.
As per the latest update, the cap on non-economic damages for a wrongful death case in Maryland is set at $2,262,500 in 2023, provided there are two or more survivors. However, this cap is set to increase by $15,000 every year on October 1, which means that the cap will be higher for future cases.
Our Maryland Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help You Choose the Option that Works Best for You and Your Family
For a free case review with our Columbia wrongful death attorneys, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.