It can be pretty disheartening to lose a loved one, especially when you realize that it could have been avoided. This article explores who you can file a wrongful death claim against and who you cannot sue. To learn more about wrongful death lawsuits, you should contact our Maryland wrongful death lawyers today.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
When a person dies due to another person’s legal fault, one can file a wrongful death claim against them. Every state in the United States has a claim law that allows people to claim compensation for wrongful death.
Wrongful death usually involves auto accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 36,096 deaths occurred due to auto accidents. Medical malpractice and product liability cases also cause deaths under this category. Typically, when a person or an entity acts negligently (or fails to act reasonably), causing the death of another person, one can sue them.
Who May Sue for Wrongful Death?
Not just anyone can sue for wrongful death. To file a claim, you must represent the survivor(s) who is negatively affected by the deceased’s death. These survivors are called the real parties. Some of the people who can represent the real parties are:
Immediate Family Members
According to Maryland statutes, if you are an immediate family member, you can file a lawsuit against a legally responsible party. As such, if you are the spouse, child, or parent of the deceased, you are an immediate family member, you qualify.
People in Close Relationships With the Deceased
Some other people are not immediate family members but have some close relationship with the deceased. This includes life partners, domestic partners, people who are financially dependent on the deceased. These people can also sue in the absence of immediate family members.
In cases that occur more often than many realize, some marriages are not legally binding. This could be due to the duplicity of a spouse or some other legal technicality. However, the law ensures that no one can cut these people out of filing a lawsuit. It makes provision for putative spouses. You would be a putative spouse if you had a good faith belief that you were married to the victim.
Distant Family Members
If you’re a distant family member, such as a cousin, or a grandparent, you may be allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in some cases. For example, in Maryland, distant family members can file a lawsuit if no member of the deceased’s immediate family is alive or willing to sue.
All Persons Who Suffer Financially
If you suffer financially because you lost support or care from the deceased, you might be able to file a lawsuit. This is possible even if you are not directly related to the deceased.
Parents of a Deceased Fetus
In some states, parents of an unborn fetus cannot sue for the wrongful death of their unborn child. However, in Maryland, the wrongful death of a fetus is a reasonable basis for a suit. The passing of Va. Code § 8.01-50B caused both Maryland and the District of Columbia to recognize that one can take some form of action for the wrongful death of a fetus.
Who Cannot Be Sued For Wrongful Death?
There are a few people or groups that may be immune from a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes certain government agencies and government personnel. In other cases, it can even be family members or blood relatives who you cannot sue for wrongful death.
Some of the federal laws that dictate immunity include recent laws that provide immunity from wrongful death claims in cases like railroad collisions and other cases involving some types of medical devices and drugs.
If you are not sure if you can sue someone, a group, or an organization for wrongful death, you should immediately reach a lawyer. An experienced personal injury lawyer will clarify the immunity status of the person who is responsible. In some cases, you might even be able to find someone else or another entity responsible for the incident that caused the death of your loved one.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Today!
If you have lost any of your loved ones through the fault, you should contact a lawyer today. Our experienced personal injury lawyers at Pinder Plotkin, LLC, will ensure that you get the representation you deserve. If you’re not sure if your loved one’s death is wrongful, you can also schedule an initial consultation with us. We will clarify all your questions and get you started.