Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Maryland?
Losing a loved one because of someone else’s negligence is perhaps the most devastating experience a person can go through. Knowing that the death of someone you care about could have been avoided if someone had simply behaved with care can make a loss seem even more senseless and difficult to understand. Although there’s no way to make up for the loss of companionship and joy that a death creates, the legal system does offer recourse for the families of victims in the form of wrongful death claims. In cases where the death creates a financial burden for the family, a wrongful death claim can compensate them for those losses, allowing them to focus on their emotional recovery without having to worry about financial problems on top of their grief. Wrongful death claims are subject to laws about who can bring a lawsuit, and families sometimes feel confused about how these claims work and who can file them. In this article, we’ll go over some of the basics of wrongful death claims in Maryland, including who is eligible to file.
Two Types of Wrongful Death Claims in MarylandIn Maryland, wrongful death claims are generally divided into two categories:
- Beneficiary actions are actions brought on behalf of the deceased person’s surviving family, including their spouse, children, and parents. They are intended to compensate the family for losses they’ve suffered as a result of the person’s death, such as lost wages, loss of companionship, and the loss of help with child care and general domestic support (like helping around the house).
- Survival actions are actions brought on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. They are intended to compensate the estate for expenses related to the person’s death, such as funeral and burial expenses as well as medical bills. They can also compensate the estate for losses the person suffered directly, including pain and suffering.
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Action?Regardless of whether the surviving family members are filing a survival action or beneficiary action, Maryland rules have clear specifications about who can file the claim and bring a lawsuit. Maryland classifies surviving family members into a two-tiered system of beneficiaries for the purpose of wrongful death claims:
- Primary beneficiaries include the deceased person’s surviving spouse, parents, and children.
- Secondary beneficiaries include the decedent’s surviving brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and cousins.