Wrongful Death Lawyer
In Maryland, when one person acts negligently and causes the death of another person, state law allows the deceased person’s family to file wrongful death and/or survival actions.
Both situations allow surviving family members to bring legal claims on behalf of their lost loved ones, but there are important differences between these two legal claims.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence, our deepest sympathies go out to you. Baltimore Wrongful Death Attorney John J. Leppler will hold the negligent party or parties responsible and handle your claims so that you can grieve appropriately. We’ll treat you and your claim with the utmost respect and sympathy.
Wrongful Death Claims in Maryland
In Maryland, the law allows surviving family members to recover damages for the harm that they themselves have suffered as a result of the death of a loved one. Wrongful death actions compensate certain family members for the loss of support and companionship after their loved one passes away.
Nonetheless, the law only allows certain family members to file a wrongful death action; i.e. a wrongful death claim can only be brought a deceased person’s:
- Parent, or
The damages that these family members can recover include:
- Economic Damages. These are the measurable costs, such as lost wages, medical bills, and funeral expenses, which are relatively easy to calculate, and
- Non-Economic Damages. These are the costs that are not measurable, such as emotional pain and suffering, the loss of companionship, comfort, and protection, etc.
In most cases, surviving family members have three years to file a wrongful death action. Absent special circumstances, the law prohibits family members from filing a wrongful death action after the three-year statute of limitations.
In Maryland, the law allows surviving family members to recover damages on behalf of a deceased loved one. In this way, survival actions are different from wrongful death actions. In a survival action, the surviving family members are suing for harm or injury sustained by the deceased person before his or her death rather than for their own damages as in a wrongful death claim. So, for example, if a loved one dies instantaneously, there are little to no damages to recover.
So speaking generally, a survival action enables a surviving family member to “step into the shoes” of the deceased person, so to speak. If the deceased person has a valid claim against a third party, for negligence for example, then the surviving family members can pursue this negligence claim on the deceased person’s behalf even after their loved one’s death.
The damages in a survival claim also apply to survival claims in a common-sense fashion, and the same three-year statute of limitations applies. However, unlike wrongful death claims, damages for a survival action go to the deceased person’s estate rather than directly to surviving family members.
Wrongful Death FAQs
A person’s untimely demise is always a tragic occurrence. In certain cases, the event may be the result of another person’s actions, which means you should involve a wrongful death lawyer.
In these FAQs, our Towson, MD personal injury law firm discusses all things related to wrongful death lawsuits. Learn more about that type of lawsuit and if it is one you can pursue in your current situation. You will also learn why hiring an attorney is a necessity if you intend to take that legal action.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death lawsuits allow the loved ones of a deceased individual an opportunity to take additional legal action against the defendant. It is important to point out that a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil course of action. This is not a criminal case.
Clarifying that distinction is crucial. According to this article from Cornell Law School, the burden of proof that plaintiffs must meet in wrongful death lawsuits is lower than the threshold for criminal charges. Even if the defendant somehow avoids a guilty charge in their criminal case, they may still be deemed responsible for the victim’s death. The defendant may still need to provide compensation because the wrongful death lawsuit succeeded.
A wrongful death could be the result of someone’s intentional actions. In many cases, the action that ultimately leads to the death of the affected party is an accident.
Who Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Maryland?
The individuals eligible to file wrongful death lawsuits in Maryland are the primary beneficiaries. They include the deceased individual’s spouse, children, and parents.
If there are no living primary beneficiaries, secondary beneficiaries will be allowed to file the lawsuit. Secondary beneficiaries are individuals related to the victim by blood or marriage. Crucially, the secondary beneficiaries must also be “substantially dependent” on the deceased individual before they can pursue legal action.
Who Are Eligible to Receive Compensation from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland?
The same rules that dictate which individuals can file a wrongful death lawsuit also determine who can receive compensation from that legal action. Once again, they prioritize the primary beneficiaries.
Only the secondary beneficiaries who were “substantially dependent” on the deceased may receive compensation. The courts will not reward secondary beneficiaries any damages if a primary beneficiary is still alive.
Common Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims may apply to different scenarios. The accident that took your spouse’s life could be a prime example of a wrongful death, and you may not be aware of it.
In this section, we will take a closer look at the different types of wrongful death claims that plaintiffs commonly pursue. Go through them and check if one seems like it could be similar to your case.
Fatal Car Accidents
Cars are safer than they have ever been as manufacturers have gone to great lengths to include features that protect both the occupants of the car as well as the other motorists and pedestrians around them. Sadly, those features cannot account for the negligent actions of a driver.
A distracted driver may fail to notice the pedestrian crossing the road. By the time they stop their car, the pedestrian may already be lying lifeless on the ground.
Wrongful death lawsuits also apply if casualties result from a car crash. The person who caused that crash would need to answer for their reckless actions.
Fatal Workplace Accidents
Employers are supposed to provide safe working environments for the employees. Falling, electrocution, and exposure to toxic chemicals are some of the deadly hazards that workers may face, so they must minimize the threats they pose. If an employer fails to meet that obligation and one of their employees dies on the job, they could be subject to a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death lawsuits may also stem from defective products. Manufacturers must check and double-check their products to ensure they are fit for consumption or usage. Taking time to test products for safety is especially important for the manufacturers of food and medicine.
Products can be defective due to their design, manufacturing, or marketing. You can file a wrongful death lawsuit regardless of which defect led to the death of your loved one.
The negligent actions of a medical professional may also lead to a wrongful death. Those negligent actions may include surgical errors or mistakes related to prescribing medication.
Plaintiffs have a high bar to clear if they want to pursue a wrongful death claim based on medical malpractice. Partnering with a wrongful death lawyer in Baltimore, MD will be essential in that scenario.
Lastly, wrongful deaths may also occur following intentional actions. If your loved one died because they were assaulted, you may sue the assailant for compensation.
What Does Wrongful Death Attorney Do?
Should you hire a wrongful death lawyer as you pursue compensation for the unexpected death of your loved one? You can come up with an answer to that question after you learn what a wrongful death lawyer in Towson, Maryland can do.
Your Lawyer Can Give You Time to Grieve
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit as soon as possible is important because you can never predict how the defendant may act. Furthermore, the statute of limitations for these cases is only three years, which can go by quickly. It would be best to take action right away.
Going through the process of filing that lawsuit will not be easy if you are still grieving. Allow your lawyer to take on that responsibility for you.
Your Lawyer Can Determine the Appropriate Amount to Ask for in Your Lawsuit
You must consider numerous factors to determine the appropriate amount of damages in your case. Figuring that out on your own can be tricky. If you are so inclined, you can entrust that task to your lawyer.
Your Lawyer Can Gather Evidence
Gathering evidence to support your claim is crucial when preparing to file a lawsuit. However, you may not have time to do that since you still have funeral arrangements to attend to. Thankfully, your lawyer can work on the evidence while you turn your attention to more important matters.
Reach out to us at Leppler Injury Lawyer if you are planning to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Hold the defendant responsible for your tragic loss and simultaneously secure more financial assistance for you and your family by moving forward with that claim.
Wrongful Death Attorney in Baltimore, MD
Wrongful death and survivor claims are both related to tragic circumstances. We understand this and will handle your claims so that you may grieve appropriately. Let a Baltimore lawyer at Leppler Injury Law help. We will give your matter the kind of personal attention you won’t find at the huge law firms, and we offer 24/7 accessibility, no-obligation consultations, no fees charged unless you win, and same-day responses to messages. We will treat you with the utmost respect and sympathy.
Contact Towson, MD wrongful death attorney John J. Leppler either by email or by phone at 443-955-1989 to schedule your free consultation.