A fatal car accident is a devastating event for the family, loved ones, and friends of the person killed. Losing a family member or loved one is painful, especially when the death was caused by the carelessness or negligence of another driver.
The compassionate attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras understand that a tragic death is often compounded by a financial crisis due to expensive medical or funeral costs and lost wages. Below, our Maryland wrongful death attorney looks at what legal options you have if you lost a loved one in a car accident.
Common Causes of Fatal Car Accidents in Maryland
Car accidents are an unfortunate fact of life. While some accidents only result in minor injuries, many others are fatal. In many situations, a fatal accident was caused by another driver’s negligent or careless conduct.
A motorist endangers themselves and others on the road when they operate their vehicle recklessly. Driving at an excessive speed or carelessly changing lanes could result in a fatal accident – especially when driving on a highway.
Head-on collisions are often fatal. One of the leading causes of this type of catastrophic accident is distracted driving. When a driver looks down at their cell phone or radio, they are liable to cross over into oncoming traffic.
When a driver gets behind the wheel while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, their motor skills, coordination, reaction time, and mental capabilities are severely hampered. Driving in this state leads to poor decisions, slow reactions, and fatal crashes.
When a car accident occurs, many people immediately want to know how to file a car accident lawsuit in Maryland. If you lost a loved one or family member to a fatal car accident, you are entitled to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful Death Claims in Maryland
Unlike a personal injury lawsuit filed by an injured victim, a wrongful death claim is a lawsuit filed by an eligible surviving family member or estate representative after a person has been killed in an auto accident.
While there are some differences between a personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death claim, they are similarities. Our Baltimore wrongful death attorney will still be required to prove negligence on the part of another driver or entity to prevail in court.
Our office will have to investigate the accident, including reviewing police reports, questioning witnesses, and gathering other evidence to determine what occurred. Proving liability requires establishing negligence on the part of the defendant.
First, the defendant must have owed the deceased a duty of care. In most automotive accident cases, this is not difficult to establish. Every motorist in Maryland has a duty to operate their vehicle safely, not endangering the health and well-being of others.
The most challenging aspect of most car accident cases is proving that another motorist breached their duty of care. While some conduct is clearly dangerous, such as driving the wrong way down a street while drunk, most cases are not clear-cut.
Our Maryland lawyer for wrongful death in a car accident will have to examine the available evidence to prove another driver’s conduct was a breach of the duty of care.
Next, the breach must have caused the accident, and in this case, the death of your loved one. Finally, there must be damages. This aspect is different from an ordinary personal injury lawsuit because the damages are suffered by someone other than the injured person.
Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland
Most people understand that a person injured in a car accident is entitled to sue for medical expenses and other financial losses. In a wrongful death claim, the claimant was not physically injured in the accident. However, they could still recover from similar losses.
The easiest damages to understand, and calculate, are economic or financial damages. A claimant is entitled to seek compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of the death.
Some typical monetary damages include medical expenses, funeral, and burial costs.
However, a claimant is also entitled to recover future costs such as the lost wages of the deceased and the cost of certain domestic services.
Our Baltimore attorney for wrongful death in a car accident will work with economic and vocational experts to determine what your loved one would have earned over the course of their life.
Additionally, you could also be compensated for the cost of those domestic services that your loved one regularly provided. Anything you do recover must be reasonable and not based on mere speculation. Our office will have to provide evidence to support the compensation sought.
A claimant is also entitled to noneconomic damages. These damages are much more complicated and challenging to calculate. Unlike financial losses, noneconomic damages are more ambiguous and include things like pain and suffering, grief, and the loss of companionship and consortium.
Because death impacts every family differently, our Maryland wrongful death attorney will have to work closely with you and other individuals, such as your therapist or healthcare provider, to determine how the sudden loss of your loved one affected you.
Call Our Wrongful Death Attorney to Schedule a Free Consultation
Car accidents leave many people throughout Maryland injured and in need of financial help. Unfortunately, many crashes result in the death of a family member. If you lost a loved one because of another driver’s negligence, you have legal rights.
Our Maryland personal injury attorney provides professional and compassionate representation for those families that suffered an unexpected loss.
Losing a devoted family member is heartbreaking and could lead to financial ruin. To understand your options and rights, contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free consultation.