The unexpected passing of a loved one carries significant implications for surviving family members, but the losses extend far beyond the emotional distress and grief. There are financial consequences when the deceased is no longer around to contribute to the household. Survivors are deprived of the quality of life they would have enjoyed had their loved one not been killed. Fortunately, you may have legal remedies if you were affected by such a tragedy. Maryland’s wrongful death statute allows a cause of action when misconduct causes a fatality, and the proceeds of the suit go to the surviving spouse, parent, and child.
However, it is not just the wrongful death statute that plays a role in wrongful death cases. There are numerous legal concepts that also affect these claims, and they can have a considerable impact on your rights. An Owings Mills wrongful death lawyer will assist with the challenges raised by the following laws.
Laws on Fault
The concept of fault is what makes a person or entity liable for damages under Maryland personal injury laws. It is necessary to prove fault in a wrongful death case. Just as it would be if the victim were merely hurt instead of being killed. There are three types of fault that may affect your case:
- Negligence, which means the at-fault party failed to exercise reasonable care;
- Recklessness, where the person acts with willful, wanton disregard for safety of others; and,
- Intentional misconduct, such as assault, attacks, and other criminal activity.
Statute of Limitations
There is a time restriction on wrongful death cases. You must file a lawsuit in court within 3 years after the victim dies. If you fail to initiate litigation, you are barred from ever recovering compensation for your losses.
Maryland’s Contributory Fault Rule
There is a law that focuses on the conduct of the victim, and it could make or break a wrongful death claim. If the person who was killed engaged in negligent acts, the contributory negligence law bars compensation. In other words, when the decedent failed to exercise reasonable care, their surviving loved ones cannot obtain monetary damages.
Statutory Cap on Noneconomic Damages
Maryland is one of a few states that imposes a limit on what victims can recover as pain and suffering damages. From October 2022 through September 2023, the statutory cap on noneconomic damages is $920,000. This limit applies to wrongful death cases, except for those based on medical malpractice. When there are two or more beneficiaries in a wrongful death case, the cap is $1,380,000.
The limit does not affect economic damages, including medical expenses for the decedent’s treatment before death and funeral costs.
Count on a Baltimore County Wrongful Death Attorney to Navigate Complex Laws
For more information on the statutes and legal concepts that affect your case, please contact Attorney Michael A. Freedman. You can call 410.363.6848 or fill out an online form to set up a free consultation at our offices in Owings Mills or Glen Burnie, MD.