Pikesville, MD Wrongful Death Lawyer

The loss of a loved one always happens “too soon,” but when their death is caused by an avoidable accident, it can truly feel too soon.  However, because the accident was avoidable and someone must therefore be at fault for the accident, you could be entitled to hold them accountable for the accident that killed your loved one.

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit against them could result in compensation to help you and your family go on.  This can pay for medical expenses, lost future earnings, and other expenses that your family faces, like funeral and burial costs.

For help with your potential case, call the wrongful death lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras today at (410) 694-7291.

What Kinds of Accidents Qualify for “Wrongful Death” Lawsuits in Pikesville, MD

When someone dies early, it is often because of some concrete cause.  While many people die from unavoidable illnesses and so-called “freak accidents” where nothing could have been done to avoid the situation, many accidental deaths are instead caused by someone’s carelessness, inattention, or incompetence.  In those cases, our wrongful death attorneys can help you get compensation.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Case

To sue someone for a loved one’s wrongful death, you must be able to show that they breached a legal duty that they owed the victim, and that that breach of duty was what caused the death.  For example, if someone was driving drunk, that is a violation of DUI laws, so they can be held liable for killing someone while driving under the influence.

In many auto accident cases, the breach of duty is a violation of traffic laws, like in the DUI example.  Alternatively, it can be an injury caused by someone’s inability to uphold the safe-driving practices that a reasonable driver would uphold in the same situation.

In fact, many legal duties are based on this objective reasonableness standard: what an ordinary, reasonable person would have done in the same situation.  If the actor’s abilities were sub-par, they were not paying enough attention to avoid the accident, or they acted unreasonably in the given situation, then they can be held liable for the resulting injuries and deaths.

Examples of Wrongful Death

In other situations, this unreasonableness looks like a property owner’s failure to repair a crumbling balcony or an elevator servicer’s failure to close an elevator with a frayed cable.  If the resulting balcony collapse or elevator fall killed someone, those unreasonable parties who violated their duties could be held liable.

In the context of dangerous and defective products, a product could be dangerously designed or assembled incorrectly at the factory.  Additionally, a product might be somewhat dangerous by nature, but the manufacturer’s failure to include warnings might make it unreasonably dangerous.  Often, the question of whether a duty was violated or not does not need to be answered in a product injury cases, and manufacturers are often held to higher standards when it comes to mistakes that cause death and injury.

In a medical context, unreasonableness is often a failure to follow the “standard of care” that other doctors would have followed.  In many cases, wrongful death results not from a surgical error or a mistake in the operating room but rather from a doctor’s failure to properly diagnose a condition.  While the doctor might not have caused the condition, it is also potentially negligent to allow a condition to go untreated because the doctor failed to administer tests, misread test results, or failed to refer the patient to a specialist.  For this reason, misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose can also be the root cause of a wrongful death.

Airplane, train, car, truck, bus, and bicycle accidents are also typically caused by negligence and can be grounds for a wrongful death claim as well.  Even murder and manslaughter – which are intentional and thus worse than negligent – can also be grounds for a civil lawsuit, even if criminal charges were also filed.

Suing for Wrongful Death in Pikesville, MD

Under Maryland law, only certain parties are allowed to file a lawsuit for wrongful death, but there is also a somewhat related “survival action” that can be filed to give damages to other parties as well.

In a wrongful death lawsuit filed to benefit the family of the deceased for their death, the case must be filed in court by a parent, child, or spouse.  However, other parties who were materially dependent on the victim might be able to file instead if there was no parent, child, or spouse available to file.  This could help people like a sibling or cousin in the deceased’s care file for their death.

In a survival action, the lawsuit is filed by the estate to recover compensation for the damages the deceased victim faced before dying, such as end-of-life pain and suffering or medical bills.  In this case, the estate files the case, and benefits are paid back into the estate and then distributed according to the victim’s will.  Under a will, anyone can be entitled to receive benefits, so this could mean that unmarried dating partners, friends, or other loved ones could receive a share of the damages.  If they died without a will, the law has a method for distributing their estate to close family first.

To discuss filing a wrongful death and survival action for your loved one’s death, work with our attorneys.  There is an involved filing process, and court paperwork needs to be formatted in certain ways, filed before certain deadlines, and written in a certain way to explain the cause of action, your right to sue, and the damages you are seeking.

Call Our Pikesville, MD Wrongful Death Lawyers Today for a Free Case Review

If you lost a loved one in an accident, call (410) 694-7291 for a free case review with the wrongful death lawyers from Rice, Murtha & Psoras.