ClickCease How Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work in Baltimore?

How Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work in Baltimore?

What Is Considered Wrongful Death in Baltimore?

Before understanding how a Baltimore wrongful death claim works and the steps involved in filing one, it’s important to understand exactly what a wrongful death lawsuit is. Wrongful death is defined in Maryland law as “an act, neglect, or default including a felonious act which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.” Put more simply, a wrongful death claim is one in which the victim lost their life due to another party’s negligence, and if they had survived, they would have been entitled to collect damages.

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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Baltimore?

One key difference between wrongful death lawsuits and other personal injury lawsuits is that the victims are not able to represent or speak for themselves. Some states impose limitations on who can bring about a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of someone else; sometimes, the law dictates that only a “personal representative” (such as the executor of the deceased party’s will) can do so. 

This is not the case in Maryland; any of the deceased party’s beneficiaries, including spouses, children, and parents of the deceased, can file a lawsuit. If the deceased has no surviving spouse, parent, or child, anyone related to them by either blood or marriage who was also substantially dependent on the deceased may file.

Filing a Baltimore Wrongful Death Lawsuit

If your parent, child, or spouse lost their life due to someone else’s negligence, you likely have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The first step is to contact a Baltimore lawyer specializing in these kinds of cases. While you can legally file the suit, proceeding without experienced legal counsel is never wise. These types of cases can be incredibly complex, and your best chance at securing justice and compensation lies in working with a dedicated Baltimore wrongful death lawyer.

Your attorney will review the facts of your case, and make a judgment on whether you have a valid claim. If so, your lawyer will begin an investigation into the accident and the death. This involves gathering evidence, speaking to witnesses, collecting police reports and medical documentation, and more. All of this is necessary proof that can help ensure you secure fair compensation.

Burden of Proof in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

As we all likely know from movies and TV, in criminal cases, the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”. This is not the case in wrongful death cases. Wrongful death suits do not allege that the at-fault party committed a criminal act or broke a criminal law; instead, they allege that the at-fault party’s recklessness or negligence resulted in a death. In these cases, the plaintiff must only prove a “preponderance of evidence”. In other words, the plaintiff must prove that their claims are more likely true than not.

Negotiating a Settlement

In Maryland wrongful death lawsuits, a few types of damages may be awarded, divided into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those with a specific and calculable monetary value, including:

  • Financial contributions the deceased would have made to their beneficiaries
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Lost wages and benefits

Non-economic damages are the losses a family suffers that do not have a specific monetary value. This includes things like:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium

While some losses are hard to measure,  a lawyer’s job is to attach a value to them when negotiating a settlement. This number will be presented to the at-fault party and their legal team. 

In some cases, they will agree immediately, and a settlement will have been reached. In other cases, they may come back with an offer of their own. Often, it’s possible to reach a settlement through this process, but if not, the case may need to be taken to court. If the case goes to court, the amount the defendant owes will be decided by a jury. Your Baltimore wrongful death lawsuit attorney can continue to work with and defend you in the courtroom if needed. 

Statute of Limitations in a Baltimore Wrongful Death Claim

Most legal matters come with a statute of limitations or a length of time during which you are still eligible to take legal action. In Maryland, the statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits is typically three years, meaning you have three years after the death to file a claim. 

There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. One such exception is if the deceased party died due to an “occupational disease.”  Examples of occupational disease would be something like if a coal worker died of lung disease from years of breathing in dust or if a firefighter died from cancer due to exposure to hazardous substances on the job. In cases like these, the statute of limitations on filing a wrongful death claim is extended to:

  • 10 years from the date of death, or
  • Three years from the date when the cause of death was discovered, whichever is shorter

Working with a Baltimore Wrongful Death Attorney

The unfortunate circumstance of wrongful death can arise in various situations, including instances of medical negligence leading to patient death or negligent driving causing fatal accidents. Cases where the at-fault party exhibited recklessness, such as driving under the influence or excessive speeding, frequently involve wrongful death litigation.   Working with an experienced attorney is the best route toward securing the financial compensation and justice you and your family deserve. The time immediately after a death can, of course, be raw, painful, and overwhelming, but it is always best to begin the legal process as quickly as possible.  Contact our experienced and compassionate Baltimore wrongful death lawyers to find out if you have a valid claim. 

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Have you or your loved one sustained injuries in Washington DC, Maryland or Virginia? Regan Zambri Long PLLC has the best lawyers in the country to analyze your case and answer the questions you may have.

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