The death of a family member is never easy. When a negligent or reckless act causes the death, it can be difficult to accept the death. In some cases, a person who causes a wrongful death can be held responsible for a crime. However, that person may be held liable in civil court for a wrongful death.
It may be difficult to think about filing a wrongful death lawsuit while you are grieving the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, your time to file a wrongful death lawsuit is limited in Maryland. If you do not file your wrongful death lawsuit before the deadline expires, you lose your right to hold the person or party responsible for the death of your loved one accountable.
What is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death can be the result of several incidents. When a person dies because of the negligence, reckless, careless, or wrongful acts of another party, the family members may have an action under Maryland’s wrongful death laws. Examples of incidents that might result in a wrongful death claim include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including accidents involving cars, trucks, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles
- Medical malpractice cases
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Slip and falls (premises liability claims)
- Defective products (product liability claims)
- Animal attacks
Determining whether a death is considered a wrongful death can be complicated. The Pinder Plotkin Legal Team thoroughly investigates the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death to determine if the death rises to a wrongful death. Also, we identify the party or parties responsible for the death and gather evidence to prove fault and liability.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Maryland?
As with all other personal injury claims, Maryland’s Statute of Limitations restricts the time family members have to file a wrongful death claim. In most cases, family members must file a wrongful death lawsuit within three years of the date of death. However, as with most laws, there are exceptions to the general rule.
For example, if the case involves a government entity, you may be required to file a notice of claim within a few months to protect your right to file a wrongful death claim. Another exception is in the case of deaths arising from an occupational disease. Family members must file a wrongful death lawsuit within three years from the date that the occupational disease was discovered as the cause of death or within 10 years of the death, whichever date is first.
Because cases involving a wrongful death can have special circumstances that could impact the time to file a lawsuit, it is always best to consult a Maryland wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. If you wait too long to consult with an attorney, you could lose your right to seek justice for your loved one and your family.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland?
Only certain family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit under Maryland’s wrongful death laws. The first class of individuals who can file a wrongful death lawsuit are referred to as primary beneficiaries. Primary beneficiaries are the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased person.
The second class of individuals who may file a wrongful death lawsuit are referred to as secondary beneficiaries. If there are no primary beneficiaries, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed for the benefit of someone who is related to the deceased person by marriage or blood who was substantially dependent on the deceased.
When a wrongful death lawsuit is filed, anyone who may have a claim or may be entitled to compensation as a beneficiary must be named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. If all individuals are not named as plaintiffs, the wrongful death lawsuit may be dismissed.
In addition to a wrongful death lawsuit by a primary or secondary beneficiary, the estate of the deceased may file a survival action. A survival action is different from and separate from a wrongful death lawsuit. The survival action seeks compensation for the victim’s medical bills, pain, and suffering. The estate receives the compensation from a survival action and distributes the compensation in accordance with the deceased’s will or Maryland’s intestate laws.
Contact a Maryland Wrongful Death Lawyer for More Information
No amount of money eases the pain and suffering caused by a wrongful death. However, the judicial system has no other way to compensate family members when they lose a loved one because of negligent or wrongful acts.
In addition to providing compensation to the family members, a wrongful death lawsuit can help family members receive a small level of justice by holding the party or parties responsible for the death accountable for their acts. Furthermore, wrongful death lawsuits also warn other parties that the behavior that caused the death is not tolerated or acceptable in the eyes of the law.
Contact Pinder Plotkin LLC by calling 410-661-9440 to schedule your free consultation with a Maryland wrongful death attorney.
The information provided in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. The information contained in this blog is also subject to change and should not be relied upon. Contact the Pinder Plotkin Legal Team for a FREE consultation.