You may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim if you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. Reach out to the compassionate Maryland wrongful death lawyers at Regan Zambri Long. We can help you understand the laws around wrongful death in Maryland and identify what damages you might be owed. Regan Zambri Long offers a free consultation, so call today to discuss your legal options.
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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.
These types of personal injury claims in Maryland fall under the Maryland Wrongful Death Statute, which defines wrongful death 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.”
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.
When a person dies because of a wrongful act of another person, their immediate family has the right to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. 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 or siblings, 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.
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 a loved one. These include:
In Maryland, there is a limit to how much compensation you can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit. For non-economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, if there is only one beneficiary, they can receive up to $935,000 as of 2023. The cap does increase every year. For two or more beneficiaries, the cap is $1,402,500.
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 relevant factors for determining how much money can be recovered are age, health, and future earning capability. This means that if the victim were younger with dependents, they would recover more damages than if the victim was older, in poor health, retired, or single with no dependents.
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 differs, 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:
The proceeds are divided to adequately compensate each party based on their loss when it comes to the lost loved one. For 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.
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.
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:
In Maryland, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is three 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 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 resolve a wrongful death case.
No, wrongful death is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal act. 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. NFL star O.J. Simpson allegedly murdered his wife, and both criminal charges and civil wrongful death charges were filed against him.
The Maryland wrongful death lawyers at Regan Zambri Long have significant experience with wrongful death cases and have been representing survivors in wrongful death suits throughout Maryland. 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.