You know that your life will be forever changed if you recently lost a loved one in an accident, but you might not yet realize the full extent of your losses. There can be stressful consequences if you relied on the victim for financial support, but that person’s absence results in an emotional void that leaves you feeling vulnerable and hopeless. It may comfort you to know that you have legal options under Maryland’s wrongful death statute. Including remedies for recovering monetary damages for your losses in a wrongful death claim.
However, the law is strict on who is allowed to seek compensation in a wrongful death claim. You must have legal standing, which your Baltimore County, MD wrongful death lawyer can explain in more detail. Some answers to common questions about wrongful death cases may also be useful.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
When a person is injured in an accident that was not their fault, they can bring a personal injury case against the responsible party. If that victim dies as a result of his or her injuries, the legal remedy is a wrongful death claim to recover compensation. Since the victim has passed, other survivors must take the lead with the case. Maryland law requires proof of:
- A victim’s death;
- An act that was the direct cause of the fatality; and,
- The act would have entitled the victim to recover through a personal injury lawsuit if he or she had survived.
Who can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Only surviving family members and other designated individuals have standing to seek damages through a wrongful death claim. The victim’s surviving spouse, parents, and children qualify, as do further distant relatives if no others are eligible AND the claimant was dependent upon the deceased for support.
What Types of Damages are Available in a Maryland Wrongful Death Case?
The focus of this legal remedy is on the losses suffered by the surviving family members – NOT the losses of the victim. Therefore, wrongful death compensation is available for:
- Amounts paid out-of-pocket for funeral and burial costs;
- Mental anguish and emotional distress;
- Loss of financial support;
- Losses related to the non-financial contributions to the household and family; and,
- Loss of education, guidance, companionship, education, love, and consortium.
How is a Wrongful Death Case Different From a Survival Action?
There is a second type of legal remedy available when someone dies through another party’s negligence. It is distinct from a wrongful death claim. A “survival” action focuses on the losses sustained by the victim from the point of the personal injury accident to his or her death. The personal representative of the decedent’s estate can pursue the responsible party for medical costs, lost wages, funeral expenses, and other losses.
Discuss Your Options With a Maryland Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have additional questions about standing and other issues related to Maryland wrongful death cases, please contact attorney Michael A. Freedman. We can set up a no-cost case evaluation to review your circumstances and determine how to proceed.