Families sometimes face losses from tragic accidents, many of which could have been avoided if the responsible parties had been more careful. If you lost a family member or loved one due to another’s reckless or negligent conduct, you could be entitled to seek financial compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. However, knowing whom to sue for your loss can be difficult.
Typically, the party who caused your loved one’s death will be the one to pay for damages. In many cases, there is insurance coverage available to pay for the damages – whether that be from their homeowners insurance, their car insurance, or their business liability insurance. However, it is vital to work with a lawyer to prevent insurance companies from taking advantage of you or paying unfair settlements and to make sure that you include all relevant parties in the case.
The experienced Baltimore wrongful death attorneys at Rice, Murtha, and Psoras will work to determine who should be held accountable for your losses. Determining who is legally liable and financially responsible in a wrongful death lawsuit will depend on how your loved one was killed. For a free legal consultation and more information on your potential claim, call our attorneys today at (410) 694-7291.
Who Pays for Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland?
Wrongful death claims arise from many of the same incidents that result in personal injury lawsuits. People suffer untimely deaths because of car accidents, slip and falls, and medical malpractice. Determining who should be held accountable in a wrongful death lawsuit depends on what occurred and who could be held liable. the circumstances surrounding the death will also significantly influence the amount of monetary damages available and what party will actually be making the payment.
For example, if your loved one was killed in a car accident, our Towson wrongful death attorney will thoroughly investigate the crash to determine what parties could be held responsible. In many accidents, another motorist’s conduct caused the crash. In this situation, if our office is able to prove that the conduct was negligent, the other motorist’s insurance company will likely be required to cover your financial and emotional losses. However, if the motorist was driving for their work at the time of the accident, their employer could be held accountable for your losses. In that case, the company’s insurance company would likely have to pay a settlement award.
Some wrongful death lawsuits arise when people in Maryland die as a result of medical malpractice. If this is the case, you might be able to receive compensation through a hospital or doctor’s medical malpractice insurance. Our Maryland medical malpractice attorney will have to work with expert medical professionals and the available evidence to determine who should be held liable.
While not typically fatal, people could lose their lives in slip and fall accidents. Commercial property owners and homeowners carry liability insurance to protect themselves in the event of a serious and preventable accident. If your family member died as a result of an accident on property owned by another person or company, their insurance provider could be held accountable for compensating you for your losses. However, it is critical to note that a claimant will still have to prove that the death was caused by preventable negligent conduct.
Will the Liable Party Pay for My Loved One’s Death in Maryland?
In the examples above, an insurance company would be ultimately held liable for any damages. the reason our Maryland attorney for wrongful death in a car accident will go after an insurance provider is that they have the deepest pockets. However, there are situations where the individual person who was responsible for the death could also be held accountable for your losses.
Problems can arise when the responsible person does not have enough insurance coverage to sufficiently compensate you for the death of your loved one. Under these circumstances, it is possible to hold the responsible party personally accountable. However, it might be challenging to collect any financial compensation if they have limited assets or economic resources. When our Maryland wrongful death lawyer is preparing your case, they will look to determine the likelihood that you will be able to receive the compensation you deserve if your case is successful.
Determining Whom to Sue in a Wrongful Death Case in Maryland
Identifying the specific defendant is often the first step in your wrongful death case. This means determining which driver, doctor, or property owner was responsible. However, some cases involve many parties, and it may be unclear which ones were responsible. it could also be possible that many parties can be joined in the lawsuit.
In many cases, a responsible individual might not have the funds or insurance to cover the damages in your wrongful death lawsuit. In that case, it may be important to bring the case against some larger institution or organization that is more able to pay for the death their associate caused.
Suing Multiple Drivers
In car accidents involving multiple drivers, you may be able to sue all of them for your loved one’s death. If multiple drivers contributed to a pileup crash or the negligent acts of each driver were necessary to cause the accident, then each driver would share some level of fault in that case and pay a portion of the damages.
Suing Transportation Companies
Many car accident deaths involving commercial drivers have other parties that were not behind the wheel that might also be involved in the case. As mentioned above, the commercial driver’s employer can often be held liable for their driver’s actions. In some deadly car accident cases, equipment problems are behind the crash. This could mean that if your loved one was a commercial driver who died in the crash or if they were hit by a commercial vehicle with equipment problems, the company that operates and maintains the vehicle could be responsible.
Suing Auto Manufacturers
Rarely, auto defects are responsible for crashes as well. This could allow you to sue the manufacturer of the vehicle or the manufacturer of the vehicle part, whichever party is more precisely at fault for the crash.
Suing Defective Product Manufacturers
When it comes to wrongful death lawsuits for faulty equipment or dangerous products, the question of which manufacturer to sue often comes up. Many products are made by a single manufacturer, but the specific product in your case might have been manufactured at a specific plant, so you may need to sue that plant instead of the overall manufacturing company. Other times, manufacturers merely install parts like batteries and computer chips made by other manufactures when assembling products. If that specific part’s manufacturer was at fault, you can often sue them instead of the manufacturer that unknowingly used the faulty part.
Suing Supervisors and Institutions
When deaths occur under someone’s supervision, the blame could go up the chain of command at an institution or organization. For instance, while a specific scout counselor might be overseeing a trip to a lake, the whole scouting association might be held responsible for a drowning death. Similarly, schools and church groups could be held liable for deaths caused by negligent supervision from a teacher or staff member.
Types of Financial Compensation Available in a Maryland Wrongful Death Lawsuit
As stated above, one of the main reasons our Maryland wrongful death attorneys go after insurance companies is because it increases the possible amount you could receive if your lawsuit is successful.
You could be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages through a wrongful death claim. For example, if you incurred medical costs while caring for your loved one before they died, you could be compensated for your out-of-pocket expenses. Other economic damages could include the costs associated with the funeral and burial of the deceased.
One of the most significant awards in a wrongful death claim is for lost income that the deceased would have provided. If you lost a young spouse, you could recover the amount of income and support they would have provided had they not been killed. This is not limited to their salary and could also include the value of services they provide around the household. it is not uncommon for an award of lost income to be very large. By holding an insurance company responsibly instead of an individual, you are more likely to recover the full amount of your losses.
The damages associated with a wrongful death claim are not only financial losses. You are also entitled to seek compensation for your emotional and mental suffering. For example, a spouse could recover for lost companionship or the loss of consortium. If the claimant was a child, then their noneconomic damages could include compensation for the loss of guidance or advice.
How Wrongful Death Damages Are Paid to Families in Maryland
Typically, the courts can hold an individual or an organization responsible for the death of a loved one. When this happens, that individual or the organization is ordered to pay damages. However, they might have insurance that steps in to cover the payment, so it is important to understand how these damages are divided and how the money will actually be paid.
When insurance companies represent a person or an entity, their insurance policy works as an agreement to pay damages instead of the entity they represent. That means that the insurance company will pay whatever damages their customer is ordered to pay, up to the limits of the policy. If the insurance policy falls short of covering the full damages in your case, then the at-fault party might have to pay the rest of the damages out of pocket. This is part of why it is important to see if there are any institutions, companies, or other large entities involved in the case who may be able to cover the damages in a wrongful death suit.
When organizations and employers are sued as part of a wrongful death claim, the court might divide damages between the organization and the individual defendant. In some cases, the court essentially says that the defendants are responsible for paying the damages, then the court leaves it up to those parties to determine how the damages will be split. In some cases, the court may hold the company or entity – which is more able to pay compared to the individual – responsible for the whole bill of damages. Sometimes, defendants can later sue each other for contribution to the damages, but you will have already been paid by that point.
In cases where fault is split among multiple parties, such as multiple at-fault drivers, then the courts usually divide damages according to the blame. That way, each driver or each at-fault individual pays their fair share of the damages. This can often be helpful for getting full damages out of multiple at-fault parties.
If the court orders damages paid to you and then the at-fault parties disappear or refuse to pay, our attorneys can press further legal action to enforce the court’s ruling. This may give us the ability to “attach” other assets, like buildings or equipment, to the case, giving the court the power to sell those items to cover the damages if the defendants refuse to pay. These kinds of nonpayment issues are rare, but our attorneys are prepared to take further steps to get you the damages you deserve after the court rules in your favor.
Contact Our Maryland Wrongful Death Lawyer to Discuss Your Case
The emotional pain you feel after the untimely death of a family member is incalculable. However, there are economic realities that families face, especially if the deceased provided financial support. the sympathetic Maryland personal injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras understand the pain and difficult situations many people experience. Our lawyers and staff are dedicated to providing professional representation and holding those responsible financially accountable for the wrongful death of your loved one. To schedule a free consultation with our Maryland wrongful death attorney, call (410) 694-729.