When families lose a loved one unexpectedly, they suffer emotionally, psychologically, and even financially. Having a parent, spouse, or child die because of illness is hard. However, it can be even more difficult to accept a death that’s caused by someone else’s negligence. Fortunately, for wrongful death lawsuits in Maryland, there is a wrongful death statute.
Wrongful death claims can emanate from car crashes, workplace accidents, dog attacks, slips and falls, and other accidents. Essentially, if the victim could have filed a personal injury claim if they survived, the family can file a wrongful death claim. The law gives family members the right to sue the at-fault party for compensation. As long as they can prove a person or entity was negligent, they can claim a range of damages.
Proving negligence in a wrongful death case involves:
- Establishing the defendant had a duty of care towards the victim
- Showing that they breached that duty
- Proving that this breach of duty led to the victim’s death
Every claim must meet these standards in order to be valid. However, there are also limitations on wrongful death actions. As you’ll see below, not all family members can claim compensation and eligible family members have to file their lawsuit within a specific timeframe. There are also limits on the amount of non-economic damages families can receive. We’ll discuss these restrictions in more detail below. For personalized advice, seek assistance from a Maryland wrongful death lawyer.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
Your relative likely meant a lot to you but this doesn’t automatically mean you can claim benefits. In Maryland, only the parent, child or spouse of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, if the victim didn’t leave any of these behind, other people may be able to take legal action. There are still limitations on this. The individual must be related to the deceased by marriage or blood and they must have been substantially dependent on them.
The Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Maryland
Families must file a wrongful death lawsuit within three years of their loved one’s passing. If they don’t adhere to the specified deadline, the defendant will ask for the case to be dismissed. The court will likely agree with this request. Statutes of limitation prevent individuals or businesses from having the threat of a lawsuit hanging over their heads indefinitely. However, these laws also assist plaintiffs.
If you wait for years and years to file a lawsuit, it will be difficult to find evidence to support your claim. Documents get destroyed, witnesses die or move away, and memories fade. It also takes time to build a strong case for compensation. That’s why you should contact a lawyer immediately after your loved one’s death. Even if you aren’t sure that you want to file a lawsuit, you’ll get helpful advice. The lawyer will explain all the timelines and deadlines that would be applicable. You would be in a better position to make an informed decision.
There is an exception to the three-year statute of limitations. If the victim died because of an occupational disease, different timelines apply. You must either bring the lawsuit within ten years of the individual’s death or three years from the date that an occupational disease was found to be the cause of death.
The Cap on Noneconomic Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Maryland
There are two types of damages that families can claim when they file a claim for compensation. Economic damages cover funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, loss of income, and other losses that can be easily measured in dollars and cents. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of quality of life for the deceased, and loss of companionship or guidance. These aren’t easily quantified but an experienced attorney can help you to attach a dollar figure to these losses.
There is no limit to how much you can claim in economic losses. You are entitled to full compensation. However, the upper limit for non-economic damages is $890,000 in 2020. The cap increases annually by $15,000. As with the other limitations, there’s an exception here. If there are two or more beneficiaries to a wrongful death suit, the cap increases by 150 percent. This limit applies whether are two recipients involved or six.
Contact Pinder Plotkin LLC for Help Following the Death of Your Loved One
If you lost your loved one through someone else’s negligence, you deserve to get compensation. However, the first step is to have your situation reviewed by an experienced wrongful death law firm in Maryland. If you’re thinking about filing a lawsuit, reach out to the team at Pinder Plotkin LLC today to discuss your case. Your first consultation is free.