auto accident lawyer Baltimore md

What is Considered a Wrongful Death in Maryland?

If your loved one was recently killed in an accident, you may wish to learn whether or not you can file a lawsuit against an at-fault party. Before you do so, you should understand what exactly is considered a wrongful death in Maryland.

When negligent or intentionally wrongful acts result in a victim’s death, that is considered a wrongful death in Maryland. Certain family members can file a lawsuit if a victim would have had reason to bring a personal injury claim against an at-fault party had they not died. In Maryland, a victim’s spouse, children, and parents are considered eligible plaintiffs for a wrongful death claim. Once you have filed a lawsuit, certain losses will be considered when determining compensation. An experienced Maryland attorney can help your family file a successful wrongful death lawsuit so that you can get justice for your deceased loved one.

For a free case evaluation with the Maryland wrongful death lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras, call today at (443) 508-7927.

Is Your Loved One’s Death Considered a Wrongful Death in Maryland?

In Maryland, a death is considered wrongful when it results from negligence or an intentional act by another party. Wrongful death claims can also arise out of criminal cases in Maryland. There is reason to bring a wrongful death claim when a deceased victim would have had reason to bring a personal injury claim for damages had they not died.

Suppose your loved one died from car accident injuries. If their injuries would have required compensation had they survived, there is reason to file a wrongful death claim in Maryland. Wrongful death claims might arise from various circumstances, ranging from product liability to medical malpractice. If someone caused your loved one’s death, consult an attorney.

For some Maryland families, it can be difficult to determine whether or not their loved one’s death was caused by negligence. An experienced Maryland wrongful death lawyer can investigate the circumstances of a victim’s death to identify the cause. Accidents can not only be traumatizing for victims’ families, but they may also be complex, casting doubt over an at-fault party’s identity and actions. If you are unsure whether or not your loved one’s death is considered a wrongful death in Maryland, hire an attorney.

Who Files a Maryland Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Not just anyone can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased loved one. In fact, only certain family members are considered eligible plaintiffs in a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. In order to hold an at-fault party responsible for your loved one’s death, you must be eligible to sue.

In Maryland, only those with certain relationships to a wrongful death victim can bring a claim against an at-fault party. In most cases, a victim’s spouse, children, or parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Maryland. Suppose a victim does not have any living relatives that meet the necessary criteria. In that case, any family member or previous spouse who was substantially dependent on them may be able to bring a wrongful death claim. That is only possible if a victim does not have a spouse, children, or parents to file a Maryland lawsuit on their behalf.

If you are eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a negligent party for the death of your loved one, consult an attorney right away. In Maryland, eligible family members have just three years to file a lawsuit for the death of a loved one. These claims can be incredibly difficult to litigate, so it is wise to hire a Bel Air wrongful death lawyer immediately. That way, an attorney can help your family understand who is considered an eligible plaintiff and has sufficient time to build a case against an at-fault party.

What Damages Are Available in a Maryland Wrongful Death Claim?

In the event of the death of a loved one, survivors may receive compensation for their losses through a successful wrongful death lawsuit. In Maryland, this compensation is divided into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. In certain cases, punitive damages may also be awarded if the act that caused the death was particularly heinous. However, it is important to note that Maryland law places caps on some of these damages.

Economic Damages

If a family member has lost a loved one, they may be entitled to recover economic damages. These damages may cover medical expenses incurred for treating the deceased’s injuries that led to their death, lost financial support that the family members would have received if the loved one had survived, and also any inheritance that the deceased could have saved for their surviving family members. Additionally, funeral and burial expenses are usually included in the economic damages.

The good news is that economic damages are not capped by Maryland law. However, these damages will be limited by what financial losses you can prove, so be sure to keep any records, invoices, and receipts you received while attending to your loss.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages pose a challenge when it comes to calculating the amount of compensation, as they stem from the subjective losses you have endured due to the wrongful death. These damages are commonly referred to as “pain and suffering,” and are intended to compensate bereaved family members for the emotional turmoil they face. Per Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., § 3-904(d), numerous non-economic damages can be pursued by surviving relatives, such as the loss of companionship, the loss of protection and comfort, and the lack of spousal, parental, and child support.

Unfortunately, in cases of wrongful death and survival actions, the maximum amount awarded for pain and suffering is capped at $920,000 when a single person makes a claim. However, this cap increases by $15,000 annually on October 1st. If two or more individuals make a claim, the cap is raised to $1,380,000., according to Md. Code, Crts. Jud. Proc. Art., § 11-108(b)(3)(ii).

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages stand apart from other forms of damages, as their purpose is not to provide compensation to the plaintiff but rather to penalize the defendant. However, not every wrongful death case results in the awarding of punitive damages. To receive them, you must demonstrate that the defendant’s extreme negligence or reckless actions led to your loved one’s death, as mere ordinary negligence is insufficient to warrant punitive damages. Generally, gross negligence is understood as a level of negligence that far surpasses ordinary negligence. The defendant’s negligence must be so severe that their conduct is utterly appalling.

Unlike non-economic damages, punitive damages are not capped in Maryland. That being said, they are rarely awarded. In cases of wrongful death, you might have a better chance at recovering punitive damages since many untimely deaths that result in a lawsuit are the result of another’s reckless conduct.

Common Cases Involving Wrongful Death in Maryland

Wrongful death incidents can occur in numerous ways in Maryland. These incidents are usually caused by common accidents that happen on a daily basis. Sometimes, the cause of death of a loved one may be apparent, and the responsible party can be held accountable. In other cases, determining the liable parties can be overwhelming and stressful when multiple parties are involved. Nonetheless, there are several common causes of wrongful death that you should receive compensation for in Maryland.:

Car Accidents

Sadly, car accidents are a frequent cause of wrongful deaths in Maryland. Matters become even more complicated when multiple defendants are involved, particularly in cases where a loved one has passed away. Negligent drivers who speed, drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or engage in some form of reckless behavior behind the wheel significantly increase the likelihood of a fatal car accident occurring.

Medical Malpractice

In Maryland, wrongful death cases are often a result of medical malpractice. If a patient passes away due to inadequate care provided by a doctor or nurse, they can be sued for wrongful death caused by medical malpractice. If you have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, it is crucial to seek the help of an attorney immediately to preserve valuable evidence in your case.

Defective Products

Wrongful deaths can also be caused by defective products, ranging from toys that harm children to faulty car parts. When these products fail unexpectedly, it can result in tragic consequences. Fortunately, manufacturers and designers can be held responsible for defects in manufacturing, design, and marketing. A manufacturing defect is an error made during production that can cause injury when used properly, while a design defect is an error made during the initial design phase of the product. Also, negligence on the part of a manufacturer can be shown if proper warning labels or instructions for using the product are not provided.

Call Our Maryland Wrongful Death Lawyers About Your Wrongful Death Claim Today

For a free review of your case with our Baltimore wrongful death lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras, call today at (443) 508-7927.