Protecting Families’ Right to Compensation After the Loss of a Loved One
Those who have recently lost a loved one to an unexpected accident know no words can fully capture the pain and hardship that follow. You may feel like your life has been turned upside down. You may also experience difficult emotions like anger and resentment. Though our lawyers know nothing can make up for what you have lost, we are here to help you however we can.
A wrongful death claim can hold wrongdoers accountable and recover compensation to provide a safety net as you move forward. We firmly believe anyone in your situation should have the support, financial and otherwise, necessary as they search for balance. Reach out to our team to learn whether you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim and how we can help you.
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Defining a Wrongful Death in Maryland
Whether you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim depends on the role of third-party negligence in your loved one’s death. Our state has stricter laws than most others, requiring a plaintiff to prove they hold no fault in an accident as part of their case for compensation. Known as contributory negligence, this rule can make it harder to file a case and receive a fair settlement or verdict.
We can help investigate your loved one’s accident to find proof of another party’s fault. Our skilled investigators know where to look for evidence that could prove essential to your claim. While our goal is to negotiate a fair settlement for you, we are not afraid to take your case to court if necessary.
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What a Wrongful Death Case Looks Like
With proof the fault for an accident lays with another party, a wrongful death case can help family members of the deceased recover compensation for all the losses and challenges they are now facing. However, there are rules that govern who can file and what you can request in such a case.
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Eligibility to File
A wrongful death claim cannot be brought by just anyone who knew the deceased. In Maryland, you must be a primary beneficiary, or a:
- parent, or
of the deceased or you will not be given the initial right to sue. Primary beneficiaries, as the closest family members to the decedent, suffer the most direct harms and losses and are therefore eligible for compensation before others with less direct ties.
In some cases, there is no primary beneficiary willing or able to file. The right to bring a wrongful death claim then passes to secondary beneficiaries: those who are related, by blood or marriage, and are dependent on the deceased for material or other support.
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Damages You Can Request
A family member who files a wrongful death case has the right to compensation for economic and non-economic damages related to the loss of their loved one. While the line items may vary on a case-by-case basis, you could be able to ask for:
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits (insurance, retirement, and more)
- Loss of inheritance
- Mental anguish
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of company, companionship, and protection
- Loss of marital, parental, and/or filial care
- Loss of guidance, advice, attention, counsel, et cetera
Though there is a limit on the non-economic damages you can receive in such a case, it’s important to work with a lawyer to maximize your claim. The loss of a loved one sends ripples that affect you and your family in a multitude of ways. Each of them deserves acknowledgment and restitution from any negligent party that caused their death.
What You Should Know About Survival Actions in Maryland
While there are other damages and expenses associated with a wrongful death, some of them are only recoverable through a survival action. This claim must be filed separately from a wrongful death suit but is usually handled at the same time. Pursuing compensation through both avenues gives you a chance to recover more, though success looks different between the two.
A survival action assumes the deceased would have had the right to file a claim against the negligent party who hurt them had they lived. This right “survives” their death, but rather than passing to heirs or beneficiaries, it must be exercised by their estate. In most cases, a beneficiary will end up filing the claim as a representative of the estate, but because they do not stand to benefit directly, there are fewer rules regarding who can file this type of action.
With its focus on the deceased, a survival action allows for the recovery of damages associated with the accident but visited on the victim rather than their family members. These losses may have happened either between the injury and death or shortly after. They include:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Funeral and burial expenses
Compensation in a survival action is routed toward the estate of the deceased to cover these and other relevant costs. Our attorneys can help you understand how this might affect you as an heir.
The Caring Support Your Family Needs
At Ashcraft & Gerel, we are dedicated to helping our clients find justice after their lives are forever changed by negligence. With more than 65 years in business, we’ve seen just how much our assistance can do for those going through difficult times. This inspires us to keep fighting for people like you.
Bringing a wrongful death claim can help you secure your future after losing a family member. It can also force a wrongdoer to own up to their negligence and face its consequences. While no legal remedy can hope to replace what you have lost, many families find pursuing justice helps them work through their grief. If you are considering filing a case, or just want to explore the possibility, we invite you to speak with one of our attorneys today.