It goes without saying that losing someone close to you can be very devastating to anyone. It is even more painful and distressing if the death was a result of another party’s negligence.
In the event that you have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another party, then you are entitled to pursuing a wrongful death suit. A wrongful death suit offers you and your family a means of recovering damages and making sure that the culpable party is held accountable for their negligent behavior. Our Ellicott City wrongful death lawyers are available to help you through this process.
Get in touch with a seasoned personal injury attorney at Pinder Plotkin today to assist you in filing your wrongful death claim.
How is Wrongful Death Defined Under the State Laws in Maryland?
Maryland’s Wrongful Death Statute defines wrongful death as a death that is caused by the negligent actions of another party, whereby the individual that loses their life would have brought an action for recovering damages if he or she would not have died. The purpose of a wrongful death suit is to compensate the surviving immediate family and estate of the deceased.
The Maryland State Legislature created the Wrongful Death Statute to enable the surviving family members or the estate of the deceased person to get compensation for the loss of their loved one as a result of another party’s negligent actions. Considering that the family members are the ones usually left suffering after the wrongful death of their loved one, this is why the statute was put in place.
The wrongful death of a loved one can devastate the surviving family members in very many ways including loss of companionship, income, and protection; emotional distress; broken families; and missed memories. According to Maryland’s Wrongful Death Statute, the family’s right is an independent claim that is separate from the right that the estate of the deceased may have.
What Are Some Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
Accidents that commonly lead to wrongful death cases include:
- Medical Malpractice
- Construction accidents
- Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
- Defective or Unsafe Products
While there isn’t any amount of money that can be able to bring back your loved one, the only way to discourage the negligent parties from committing similar mistakes in the future is to force them to provide compensation via a wrongful death suit.
What are the Kinds of Wrongful Death Claims in Maryland?
Generally, Maryland categorizes wrongful death claims into two types:
- Wrongful Death Actions
- Survival Actions
What is the Difference Between a Survival Claim and a Wrongful Death Action?
A wrongful death action is a lawsuit brought up on behalf of the deceased’s surviving family members including the spouse, parents, and/or children. A wrongful death action is meant to compensate the surviving family members for losses suffered due to the loss of a loved one. These losses include lost wages, lost support, lost companionship, etc.
A survival action is a lawsuit brought up on behalf of the estate of the deceased person. It is intended to compensate the estate for losses it incurred, including medical bills, burial, and funeral costs, and so on, as a result of the death. The estate can also be compensated for losses the deceased individual suffered directly, for example, pain and suffering as a result of the fatal injury or illness.
Who is Entitled to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Maryland?
Maryland has in place very specific rules in regards to the parties that qualify to file a wrongful death claim/survival action. If a particular individual is entitled to filing a claim will depend on whether you fall under “primary” or “secondary” beneficiary.
Primary beneficiaries include the deceased person’s surviving parents, children, and spouse. If any of the primary beneficiaries is alive, then they can file a wrongful death claim, a survival claim, or even both. In case a primary beneficiary pursues either of the claims, then all the damages awarded in the claim will be solely awarded to the primary beneficiary.
Secondary beneficiaries include the deceased person’s surviving siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, and any other surviving relatives. In case they aren’t any surviving primary beneficiaries or no primary beneficiary is willing to pursue either of the claims, then the secondary beneficiaries can file a survival action to seek compensation on behalf of the estate of the deceased person.
What Kinds of Damages are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim?
When filing a wrongful death suit in Ellicott City, Maryland, the primary or secondary beneficiaries can recover both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages cover all the financial damages incurred directly as a result of the incident that caused the wrongful death. This also covers the loss of future financial contributions that would have been made by the deceased person. Here are some of the economic damages that you can recover:
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of victims wages
- Medical expenses
- Loss of victim’s benefits like pension or healthcare coverage
- Loss of goods or services that would have been provided by the deceased person if he or she would have provided
This covers intangible losses. This includes social and emotional needs and can be difficult to assign a monetary value on. Non-economic damages are normally awarded higher compensation amounts. Here are some non-economic damages that you can recover.
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship, love, and society
- Mental anguish
- Loss of care, protection, advice, care, training, and nurturing.
It is important to note that there isn’t a limit on the amount of economic damages that you can recover in Maryland. However, there is a limit on non-economic damages but it increases by $15,000 each year. The maximum recovery amount as of October 1, 2020, will be $890,000.
Can Punitive Damages Be Awarded in a Wrongful Death Claim?
It is possible for the surviving family to be awarded punitive damages in wrongful death claims in Maryland, however, it has to be proven that the culpable party acted with intent to cause injury. This involves malice and evil or wrongful motivation to injure or kill another person. However, it is rare for a jury in Maryland to award punitive damages since proving deliberate intent can be difficult in wrongful death claims involving only negligence.
How is Negligence Proved in a Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death claim is just a tort claim filed on behalf of a deceased person. You don’t need any extra level of proof for a wrongful death claim. In order to prove wrongful death in Maryland, you just have to prove the three basic elements of negligence:
Duty of Care
As the plaintiff, you are required to establish the accused party owed the deceased person some duty of care. For example, a driver traveling on a public road has a duty to abide by the rules of the road and drive safely.
Breach of Duty of Care
You will also be required to prove that the actions or inactions of the accused party breached the duty of care, for example, running a red light.
Thirdly, you will be required to prove that the defendant’s breach of their duty of care caused wrongful death.
You Do You File a Wrongful Death Claim in Maryland?
Same as with any other personal injury claim in Maryland, a wrongful death claim is triggered by the negligent behavior of another party that causes the death of another party. The surviving family members can choose to involve a wrongful death attorney or not.
In case you have recently lost a loved one due to the negligent acts of another party in Maryland, then you need to contact the experienced lawyers at Pinder Plotkin to allow our team to carefully investigate your claim and guide you on the best course of action throughout the process of pursuing your wrongful death claim.
Here is a brief breakdown of the steps involved:
Our professional team at Pinder Plotkin made up of attorneys and experts will carefully investigate the specific circumstances surrounding the cause of death.
Identifying and Informing the Parties Liable
Next, our team of attorneys will identify all the potentially responsible parties and notify them of the intent to file the lawsuit.
Negotiation and Settling
While this normally doesn’t happen in all cases, often the party that you are planning to file the suit against will try to solve the issue out of court. A lot of negotiation and communication will be handled by our attorneys. They will consult you regarding crucial decisions.
Filing the Suit
In the event that the negotiations don’t work out, our expert attorneys at Pinder Plotkin will file a wrongful death lawsuit. This commences when a Complaint or Writ of Summons is filed through the courthouse. All the accused parties will be provided with these details.
Contact an Ellicott City Wrongful Death Lawyer
Both survival actions and wrongful death actions are usually highly complex and can cause serious emotional distress on the family of the deceased. Losing a loved one on itself is very distressing, but adding on a complex civil matter makes the situation even more difficult, especially when you don’t have an experienced wrongful death attorney handling the case for you.
In case you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or intentional actions of others, then you should contact the wrongful death lawyers in Maryland at Pinder Plotkin through the number provided or by using our online contact form. We will review your claim and advise you on your legal options at your free initial consultation.