Maryland Wrongful Death Lawyer
Every state, including Maryland, has enacted some form of wrongful death act. In Maryland, it is described under § 3-904 Action for Wrongful Death. Wrongful death actions often come in the case of a devastating car accident, struck pedestrian, or even bad drug. In general, an action for wrongful death may be brought any time there is the death of a loved one by a negligent or reckless third party. The purpose of wrongful death acts is to codify the common law claim of wrongful death. However, parts of the common law are unfit for modern society and require adjusting by legislators. This is a complicated part of the law and it is important to consult an experienced Maryland wrongful death lawyer to better understand your rights.
As in personal injury, a wrongful death action is civil (versus criminal) and brought by family members and dependents against those who recklessly or negligently caused the death of another. Importantly, even if the person you wish to sue has been found not guilty of criminal charges, an action may still be brought under the statute because a criminal standard is a harder bar to overcome in law.
Who May Bring a Wrongful Death Action?
Besides the estate of the deceased, there are other parties who may also recover for the harm related to the death of a loved one. As you will see, there must be a close familiar relationship under Maryland law.
In Maryland, under § 3-904, a parent may recover for the wrongful death of their deceased child. This seems obvious and it would be inhumane for the rule to hold otherwise. However, there are certain exceptions under the act which restrict a parent’s right to recover if he or she was somehow involved in the death of the decedent. Some of these rules are known as “slayer statutes.”
In Maryland, under § 3-904, a husband or wife may recover for the wrongful death of their deceased spouse. The same general restrictions apply here as well.
In Maryland, under § 3-904, the child of the deceased may recover for the wrongful death of their parent. This may include an adopted child or other dependent.
Measure of Recovery in Wrongful Death
The general measure of recovery is the pecuniary injury, or money injury, which resulted to the plaintiff. This allows for recovery for loss of support, loss of companionship, etc. Additionally, a jury may award based on factors such as the decedent’s income before death, expected future income, and the level of dependence by you, the plaintiff. However, unlike other personal injury actions, it does not allow for recovery for the decedent’s pain and suffering. This is because those damages belong to the estate of the decedent, not a related third party suing under § 3-904.
In select instances, there is the potential for punitive damages. These can substantially increase the value of your case if they are available. In general, punitive damages are awarded when there is willful, wanton, or reckless conduct which resulted in the death of your loved one. But in Maryland, there is a higher standard to obtain these damages. We have a malice standard which requires knowledge by the tortfeasor.
Something to be weary of is a contributory negligence defense by the defendant. In Maryland, we have contributory negligence jurisdictions which do not allow for any recovery if the victim was even 1% negligent in his injury. This applies here. For example, if your child died in an accident, but your child is deemed legally contributorily negligent under the duty owed by a like-minded child of similar age, education, and intelligence, your chances of recovery under § 3-904 may be completely diminished.
Contact a Maryland Wrongful Death Lawyer
This can be a complicated topic and is especially fact dependent. Therefore, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Maryland wrongful death lawyer to determine the merits of your case. We are happy to talk to you and our consultations are free and available 24/7.