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Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Maryland

If someone is injured because of another’s recklessness or negligence, the injured party might be able to file a personal injury claim to recover their damages. However, if the person is killed, is there any legal recourse? the answer is, “yes.” Under Maryland law, surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These legal actions are similar to personal injury lawsuits. the plaintiff still must prove that the defendant was negligent and that their actions caused the death.

An unexpected death could leave a grieving family with outstanding medical bills and funeral costs while taking away the primary source of income. If another person, company, or entity caused the death, they should be held legally and financially responsible. Maryland’s wrongful death statute provides a means for surviving members to seek compensation.

Our Baltimore, MD wrongful death lawyers have been assisting grieving family members for decades. At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, our team of attorneys provides sympathetic, yet aggressive, legal representation. Call our law offices at (410) 694-7291 to discuss your options.

Maryland’s Wrongful Death Statute

Maryland law defines “wrongful death” as a death resulting from an act, neglect, or default that would have entitled the injured party to have filed a legal action to recover damages if the death had not occurred.

Therefore, the way to think of a wrongful death claim is as a personal injury lawsuit, even though the injured party has died. Under Maryland law, the surviving family members of the deceased are afforded the ability to file the action against the defendant.

Wrongful death lawsuits could arise from the same types of events, incidents, and accidents that give rise to personal injury claims. For example, wrongful death claims are often filed after deadly automotive vehicle accidents. Similarly, a case of medical malpractice could eventually become a wrongful death action if the complications prove fatal. In addition to negligent acts, a wrongful death claim could be filed if a person was killed in an intentional act, such as a victim of a violent crime.

Who Has the Right to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland

To file a lawsuit, you need standing. Standing is the legal ability to bring a lawsuit in a Maryland court based upon your stake in the outcome. You must demonstrate that you have a sufficient connection to the case. Maryland law defines who has standing in a wrongful death action. Typically, the deceased’s spouse, children, or parents are permitted to bring a lawsuit. If no individuals are available from this select group, another relative who was financially dependent on the deceased could file a claim.

Maryland Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions

There is a wrinkle when it comes to wrongful death lawsuits. Surviving family members in Maryland have two options under the law: survival actions and wrongful death claims. Both actions provide a method of seeking financial compensation from the person, company, or entity liable for their loved one’s death. Nevertheless, there are significant differences in how each action works.

Wrongful Death Claims

As stated above, a wrongful death claim is brought by a close surviving family member. Through the lawsuit, they are seeking compensation for their losses, such as grief, lost income, and loss of companionship.

Our Mount Airy wrongful death attorneys will have to demonstrate that you have legal standing to file the lawsuit under state law. Furthermore, our office will have to prove that the defendant’s negligent conduct was the proximate cause of your loved one’s death. Finally, the evidence must be presented that supports your damages claim. It is important to remember that a wrongful death claim is based on the surviving family member’s harm.

Survival Actions

A survival action focuses on the deceased and the suffering they endured before their death. They are similar to personal injury lawsuits – had the deceased not been killed.

A survival action is filed by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate. While this could be a close surviving family member, it is not required. The personal representative, who could be appointed by the deceased’s will or the probate court, stands in the deceased’s place.

In a survival action, the estate is seeking compensation for the damages the victims suffered from the moment of their injury until their death. For example, the estate could recover lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and funeral costs.

Damages Distribution in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and a Survival Action in Maryland

As you can see, various types of damages are available through a wrongful death action or a survival action. Family members are not precluded from filing one type of action if the other is filed. In many cases, our Towson wrongful death lawyers will file both claims on behalf of the family and the estate. While both actions could be filed together, the compensation is handled differently depending on the action.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, any compensation that is awarded is paid to the surviving family members. If there are multiple family members, they will have to decide how to distribute the funds. In some cases, the court must intervene.

Compensation that is awarded in a survival action is paid directly to the estate of the deceased. It will be disbursed among the deceased’s beneficiaries according to the deceased’s last will and testament. If there is no will, Maryland’s intestate statute will govern the distribution.

Our Maryland Wrongful Death Lawyers Offer Free Consultations

Losing a beloved family member is always hard. When you lose someone due to another’s negligence or intentional conduct, the grief often turns to anger. Our Aberdeen wrongful death attorneys will fight for your rights while you focus on your grief. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.