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Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Maryland?

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When you lose someone you love, it can take months or even years to recover emotionally. Of course, the law does not always give a person a lot of time to figure out what happened or to bring a lawsuit if the death was due to negligence. Many families experience the heartache of losing someone special, only to later realize they have no right to pursue justice against the responsible party, simply due to a statute of limitations.

The problem often centers on trying to figure out which member of the family is the right person to pursue the matter. It can be a difficult decision for any family. Fortunately, Maryland law is pretty clear on how to pursue wrongful death cases. A Maryland wrongful death lawyer can often help a family make a sound decision about how to bring a claim.

What is Wrongful Death? 

In Maryland, a wrongful death is a death that occurs due to someone’s negligence. It can be a car wreck, medical malpractice, a fall, or just about any type of injury that was caused by reckless or negligent conduct. If someone else is responsible and causes another’s death, then the decedent’s next-of-kin have a right to file suit for their loss. People who are presumptively permitted to bring such an action are:

  • Spouse
  • Parent
  • Child
  • If there are none of the above, then any blood relative who was dependent on the deceased

Are there Exceptions? 

Yes. A parent is barred from bringing or benefiting from such a claim if they have been convicted of certain types of criminal offenses, such as child sexual abuse. If you suspect that you or another family member may not be eligible to bring an action due to a criminal history, you should discuss the specifics with a wrongful death lawyer right away.

Who Gets Compensated for Wrongful Death? 

Since the wrongful death laws are written to compensate the living, this cause of action is generally designed to pay the dependent family members (children, spouses, parents, etc.) for their loss, due to the decedent’s untimely death.  Since compensation depends largely on relationship and dependency, a will or state inheritance laws do not generally control how money is distributed from such a case.

There is another type of case that is often brought along with a wrongful death case. This is known as a survival action.

What is a Survival Action? 

Unlike a wrongful death case, where family are suing for their own losses, a survival action is one brought by the representative of the decedent’s estate, in order to pursue a claim for losses or injuries that the decedent could have pursued had he or she survived. In other words, if the decedent suffered during his final days of life, then he would have had a right to sue for those injuries. Since he died, his estate can bring a lawsuit to collect for those injuries.

Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Maryland Injury Lawyer

The laws that apply to wrongful death and survival cases can be very complicated and often hinge on very minor distinctions in the law. But if you wait too long or overlook something, you can accidentally give up rights to significant compensation. This is why it’s so important to meet with an attorney as early as possible. Even if you don’t know whether you wish to pursue a case or not, it’s generally a good idea to discuss the situation with a lawyer to learn about your rights.

To schedule a free consultation to discuss your wrongful death case, call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. in Maryland today. The call is free, and you have nothing to lose.

Resource:

mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmStatutesText.aspx?article=gcj&section=3-904&ext=html&session=2017RS&tab=subject5

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