You may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim. Reach out to the compassionate Maryland wrongful death lawyers at Regan Zambri Long PLLC. We can help you understand the laws around wrongful death in Maryland as well as identify what damages you might be owed.
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Our Maryland wrongful death lawyers have the experience, knowledge, and resources to investigate and pursue wrongful death claims. The personal injury attorneys at Regan Zambri Long, PLLC, will fight for compensation for the family on behalf of the deceased, including deaths caused by medical malpractice, car accidents, and defective products. We offer a free consultation. Call today to discuss your legal options.
Wrongful death claims are brought by the survivors of a deceased family member on behalf of the deceased loved one. Wrongful death claims did not become a part of the law until the last century or so. Traditionally, only the injured person could file a lawsuit for their injuries. This allowed the party who caused the injury to go without ever being held liable if the victim died. This unfairness was remedied by instituting lawsuits for wrongful death to allow the family of the victim to still recover their losses. Today, if the victim (plaintiff) dies during a lawsuit, the plaintiff’s estate can take over the claim.
A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit filed by surviving family members after a fatal accident. Wrongful death claims are tort claims, such as negligence or malpractice, brought on behalf of the decedent. In the majority of states, the plaintiff in a wrongful death suit is the deceased person’s estate or immediate family. Only immediate family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Any money awarded will go to the family members or the decedent’s estate.
Wrongful death claims are lawsuits brought under the wrongful death statute of your state. In Maryland, this would be the Maryland Wrongful Death Statute, which covers death caused by “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.”
In Maryland, the victim’s estate also has another separate claim called a survival action under Maryland law. A survival action is filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate for the injury to the victim. This would include medical expenses, funeral bills, and other damages like pain and suffering.
If you have lost a loved one and you are contemplating a wrongful death action, you should consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer. An experienced attorney will provide support and help you advocate for your rights as a survivor and for the rights of your loved one.
No, wrongful death is a civil lawsuit. The defendant in a civil suit does not go to jail if they lose the case, but they may be required to pay damages to the plaintiff(s) as financial compensation for the death they wrongfully caused.
However, there can be a criminal case and a civil case involving the death simultaneously. Even if there are criminal proceedings, you can still file a civil wrongful death claim. This most commonly occurs when someone is being prosecuted criminally for manslaughter and civilly for wrongful death. A well-known example is the O.J. Simpson case. N.F.L. star, O.J. Simpson, allegedly murdered his wife, and both criminal charges and civil wrongful death charges were filed against him.
When a person is killed by the wrongful act of another person, their close family likely has the right to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf.
Many years ago, Maryland did not recognize wrongful death claims. Under this old law, when someone was killed due to negligence, a personal injury claim for that death could not be brought after the victim died. However, today, every state– including Maryland– has a wrongful death statute, which gives surviving family members a “cause of action” or lawsuit even after the death of the victim.
In Maryland, the beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim can be:
If the victim was not married, the victim’s parents were no longer living, or the victim did not have children, another family member (can be related by blood or by marriage) can recover compensation if they can prove that they were dependent on the victim financially.
Wrongful death can result from many types of accidents or negligence, but the most common types of wrongful death claims are:
Wrongful death is a type of tort, which is a type of civil action for negligent or reckless actions brought on behalf of the deceased person.
To prove wrongful death, the plaintiff must establish the four elements of a tort claim:
Damages in wrongful death cases are awarded to cover and compensate expenses from the accident as well as future expenses based on the loss of the loved one. These include:
There is a money limit for wrongful death claims generally in Maryland, but there is no limit to an economic damages award sustained from a wrongful death.
This means that the damage caused to a surviving family member caused by the victim’s absence or inability to provide for the family (lost earning capacity) can be recovered. Some of the factors that are relevant for determining how much money can be recovered are age, health, and future earning capability. This means that if the victim was younger with dependents, they would recover more in damages than if the victim was older, in poor health, retired, or single with no dependents.
The proceeds are divided to adequately compensate each party based on their own loss when it comes to the lost loved one. As an example, a spouse might be able to claim lost spousal support and additional lost future wages, while a parent would not be able to claim those additional damages.
In Maryland, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is 3 years from the date of death. Though there are some exceptions to the rule, the general rule is that the survivors must file the lawsuit in Maryland within 3 years.
It is impossible to determine an average settlement number for a wrongful death claim, but an experienced Maryland wrongful death lawyer can project an amount of damages for your claim based on the specific facts of your case. Every wrongful death case is different, so settlements can range from thousands to millions.
Having an experienced lawyer will help the chances of success on your claim. Regan Zambri Long has been assisting clients for over 40 years, and some of Regan’s wrongful death verdicts and settlements include:
Many plaintiffs in wrongful death cases do not consider what a settlement award might mean for their taxes. Some types of lawsuit awards are taxable by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), but wrongful death settlements are not taxable. Fortunately, the IRS only taxes “income,” and the IRS does not consider proceeds from a wrongful death award to be income. This is because the award is meant to compensate the plaintiff for losses.
It depends. There is no standard for the amount of time it takes to settle a wrongful death claim. This will depend on various factors. When liability (duty, breach, and causation) is already established or is not in question, the only question left for the court or the parties to decide in negotiations is what compensation is reasonable. A simpler claim like this will resolve more quickly than one where liability must be proven.
In the best-case scenario, a wrongful death claim can settle in as little as months. However, many wrongful death cases take longer to settle and depending on how long it takes to finish the discovery phase of the lawsuit and how busy the court’s schedule is, it can take years to reach resolution in a wrongful death case.
Generally, yes. Liability insurance would cover a fatality resulting from negligence. Wrongful death could be covered by various forms of insurance, like medical malpractice insurance, car insurance, or even homeowner’s insurance or business policies.
The Maryland wrongful death lawyers at Regan have significant experience with wrongful death cases and have been representing survivors in wrongful death suits for over 40 years. We have recovered millions of dollars in wrongful death claims, and we can help you navigate the tricky legal issues that come along with wrongful death lawsuits and are passionate about assisting parents, spouses, and children who have lost loved ones. Call today to schedule a free consultation.