College Park Wrongful Death Lawyer
A wrongful death may occur due to negligence causing the death of a close family member. Our College Park wrongful death lawyers handle nearly any case which results due to another party’s negligence. When we take a wrongful death case, we bear the weight of a grieving family. Accordingly, we always go above and beyond to ensure our client feels comfortable with the upmost care and professionalism. We have nearly 70 years of experience handling death cases in College Park.
We understand that any death in the family can cause ripples that affect family members for years to come. Losing a parent, child, or spouse can be one of the most emotionally devastating things to happen in your entire life. It is that much worse when it is due to the negligence or intentional conduct of a third party. Regardless of if it is a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, pedestrian accident, or by any other means. There is nothing a law firm can do to fill the void from losing a family member. And our College Park wrongful death lawyers do not focus on criminal prosecution. Civilly, the law does not offer any great options. It does however offer financial compensation as an imperfect substitute.
Law in Maryland
A wrongful death claim is an independent action separate from the decedent’s claim.Only close family members of the victim can bring a claim with a competent College Park wrongful death lawyer, besides the estate of the decedent. In Maryland, those parties are a spouse, child, or parent of the victim. In 2016, Spangler v. McQuitty affirmed a few rules relating to wrongful death in Maryland. First, the Court of Appeals held that the Maryland wrongful death statute provides a new and independent cause of action than the estate of the decedent. It is also independent from the decedent’s beneficiaries, although the decedent can obtain a personal injury judgment based on the same underlying facts. Spangler v. McQuitty, 449 Md. 33, 141 A.3d 156 (2016).
A wrongful death action may seem vague. To be clearer, of course, a wrongful death action must involve a death of a victim. Further, it must be wrongful. Under MD CTS & JUD PRO § 3-901(e), a wrongful act is 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. However, it is an independent action that can be brought by a family member of the decedent, rather than the estate of the decedent. A College Park wrongful death lawyer should be able to handle both claims for the family. But, this is fact dependent and requires individual examination.
Does a General Release Bar Recovery?
This is a complex question and is fact dependent. In general, if you sign a general waiver form, you will be unable to make a claim down the road related to your injury. However, Spangler holds that a release in a personal injury action signed by a child does not bar a subsequent wrongful death action by the parents of the child. Of course, this holding also was due to the way the particular release was formatted. Accordingly, if you are wondering whether you can recover for wrongful death despite signing a general release, it is best to speak with a College Park wrongful death lawyer about your unique facts.
Similarly, the Spangler court holds that a wrongful death action may not be barred by res judicata. Res judicata is a Latin phrase meaning “the things has been decided.” In legal parlance, it means “claim preclusion”, which is different from issue preclusion. This issue goes back to the rule from above, that a wrongful death action is a separate and independent action. So, if you think you have a case, call a College Park wrongful death lawyer for a free consultation.
Contact a College Park Wrongful Death Lawyer
The rules in wrongful death actions are complex. There is discrepancy as to who can make a claim. While the statute specifies that only a parent, child, or spouse may do so, you may have questions as to who falls into which category. What if a child is illegitimate or adopted? If you have any questions relating to an issue in this article or believe you may have a case, contact a College Park wrongful death lawyer today for a free consultation.