The loss of a close loved one in a fatal accident is devastating. Although nothing could ever truly be enough to make things right again, a civil wrongful death claim can be an important step toward justice. A negligent party must be held accountable for a fatal accident. This raises a question: Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit? Unfortunately, not every person who was close to the victim has the right to do so. In this article, our Maryland wrongful death attorney provides a comprehensive guide to wrongful death claims eligibility.
Wrongful Death in Maryland: Defined
A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of civil legal claim. It can be filed by the survivors of the deceased in order to seek justice, accountability, and financial compensation for their damages. These claims can arise in a number of different circumstances—from a semi-truck accident to negligent security. In Maryland, a wrongful death is legally defined as a death caused by “the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person.” In other words, these are fault-based cases. To hold a defendant liable for a wrongful death, survivors must prove that their negligence contributed to the fatal accident.
Understanding Wrongful Death Claims Eligibility in Maryland
A death caused by negligence impacts many people. An entire community could feel the impact. However, not every person who was close to the deceased has rights under the law. In Maryland, only certain parties have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit(Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-904(a)(1)). Here is an overview of wrongful death claims eligibility in Maryland:
- The Primary Beneficiaries: Spouses, parents, and children of the deceased.
- The Secondary Beneficiaries: If no primary beneficiaries exist, any person related by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the deceased may file.
A Three-Year Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Maryland
There is a strict legal deadline to file wrongful death claims in Maryland. These civil cases are subject to a three-year statute of limitations. If a lawsuit is not filed within three years of a person’s death, the surviving family members may lose their right to take legal action. The exceptions to the statute of limitations are narrow—generally only applying to unique circumstances, such as when the discovery of the death or the cause of death occurs at a later date. Be proactive: Get help from a Maryland wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
Consult With Our Maryland Wrongful Death Lawyer for a Free Case Review At The Law Offices of Michael A. Freedman, our Maryland wrongful death attorney is a skilled, experienced, and compassionate advocate for grieving families. Have any questions or concerns about wrongful death claims eligibility? Do not go it alone. Contact us today for your free, strictly confidential initial consultation. From our law office in Owings Mills and our law office in Glen Burnie, we handle wrongful death cases in Baltimore and throughout all of Maryland.