We have worked with a lot of people and families who have lost loved ones, and all of them have one thing in common: they want the person or corporation who is responsible for the death of their loved one to be held accountable.
A wrongful death claim is often the only way to force the negligent party to admit wrongdoing, and to be held accountable for their actions. A wrongful death claim is not about revenge, and it’s not about greed: it’s about ensuring that you can keep your home, or protect your kids, or pay for the funeral and medical expenses that were incurred. You should also be compensated for the emotional loss you and your family suffer when a loved one is killed. We want you to know more about the process of filing such a claim, so you can feel more confident when you walk in our door to talk.
How does the wrongful death legal process work?
A wrongful death claim exists when someone dies due to the fault or negligence of another. Under the law, the survivors may bring a claim against the responsible parties. This could be a person at fault in a fatal car collision, or the manufacturer of a defective product.
Think of it this way: if the deceased person could have filed his or her own personal injury case, based on the injuries he or she sustained, he or she would have. But that person cannot file a claim, so it falls to you to file on his or her behalf.
However, not everyone can file a wrongful death claim. Under MD Cts & Jud Pro Code § 3-904 (2016), the parents, children, or spouse of the deceased may file a claim. Secondary beneficiaries, however, may be allowed to file in some circumstances: “If there are no persons who qualify... an action shall be for the benefit of any person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the deceased.” Essentially, if the deceased was not married, did not have living parents, and did not have children, a relative who is substantially financially dependent on them can file a claim.
All of the potential wrongful death beneficiaries must be included in the case. If an eligible family member is not reachable or does not want to participate they still must be listed in the case as a “Use Plaintiff.” If multiple cases are filed the Court will consolidate them.
What damages can you claim in a wrongful death case?
When a wrongful death claim is made for the loss of a loved one you may be entitled to damages for:
- Past medical expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of future earnings
You may also make a separate claim, called a survival action, for the pain and suffering your loved one sustained before they passed away. This claim is brought on behalf of the estate of the deceased, a wrongful death claim is brought on your behalf for the harm you’ve suffered from the loss of your loved one.
Generally, you have three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim in Maryland.
For more than 35 years, Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. has fought for justice for clients who lost loved ones because of the negligence of another person. We will fight for you, too. To speak with an experienced Maryland wrongful death lawyer, please call 410-730-7737, or fill out our contact form.