Jill Kolodner | June 2, 2022 | Wrongful Death
Losing a family member is tragic; the pain and trauma can be even more intense when that death was avoidable. Recovering compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one can help ease the family’s financial burden while giving them some measure of closure and justice.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim in Maryland?
Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings §3-902 states that an action may be brought against a person whose wrongful acts cause the death of another person. “Wrongful acts” is defined in §9-901 as default, acts, or neglect that would have entitled the deceased person to bring a civil action to recover damages if the person had not died.
Wrongful death claims can arise out of any accident or incident that results in harm to another person. Examples of personal injury cases that can result in a wrongful death lawsuit include, but are not limited to:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including accidents involving distracted driving, bicyclists, impaired driving, commercial trucks, pedestrians, and motorcyclists
- Medical malpractice claims against physicians, hospitals, and other medical providers
- Workplace accidents, including third party claims and construction accidents
- Product liability claims against manufacturers, designers, and other parties for deaths caused by defective products
- Boating accidents, dog bites, nursing home abuse, premises liability, and other personal injuries
In addition to negligence claims, criminal activity can be a reason for a wrongful death claim. For example, when a person intentionally takes the life of another, the person can be sued for wrongful death. Additionally, if a person dies because they are an innocent victim of criminal activity, the person committing the crime can be held liable for wrongful death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Baltimore, MD?
A wrongful death claim is a civil action against a party who caused a person’s death. Only specific individuals may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Maryland’s wrongful death statutes designate who can file a claim by primary and secondary beneficiaries.
Primary beneficiaries have priority to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A person’s primary beneficiaries are their surviving:
Secondary beneficiaries might file a wrongful death claim if the deceased person did not have any surviving primary beneficiaries at the time of their death. Secondary beneficiaries include blood relatives who were financially dependent on their deceased relative.
The best way to know if you have a right to sue for wrongful death is to talk with a wrongful death lawyer.
What Compensation Can a Family Receive for a Wrongful Death Claim?
Family members may seek compensation for economic damages. Economic damages include financial losses related to the actual event that caused your loved one’s death and the loss of future financial contribution by your family member.
Examples of economic damages in a wrongful death case include:
- Medical costs from the injury date through death
- Reasonable cremation, funeral, and burial expenses
- The loss of inheritance from the deceased
- The loss of the deceased’s future wages, pension, health insurance, and other benefits
- The loss of services the deceased would have provided to the family
There is no cap on the amount of economic damages a family can receive for a wrongful death claim. However, that is not true for non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages are the intangible losses a family experiences because of wrongful death. Those damages include:
- Mental anguish
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of protection, care, training, guidance, and nurturing
- Loss of companionship and love
Maryland law caps the amount of non-economic damages a family can receive for wrongful death. The amount changes each year on the first day of October.
The current cap on non-economic damages is $2,280,000, which will increase on October 1, 2022. In comparison, the cap for non-economic damages for wrongful death malpractice claims is $1,075,000.
In a few cases, the court might award punitive damages. These damages are awarded to punish the defendant for acting out of malice and to deter future similar conduct.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death claims are subject to a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a deadline for filing a lawsuit. If you do not file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, you lose the right to sue the person who caused your loved one’s death.
The statute of limitations for most wrongful death lawsuits in Maryland is three years. However, there could be exceptions. Therefore, it is always best to seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
Money cannot bring back your loved one or ease your pain. However, you and your family deserve to be compensated. Filing a wrongful death claim holds the person responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for their actions.