What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When a person’s death is the result of another individual’s negligent or reckless behavior, surviving family members have the right to take legal action in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit. For Maryland families, this type of lawsuit is often the best possible solution to financial losses associated with a sudden and unexpected death.
We know that legal action will not bring back your loved one or undo the harm your family has already suffered. However, we also know that stressors like the loss of financial support can make it difficult to fully grieve an unexpected death. If you recently lost a loved one and are struggling with the aftermath, you may be left wondering, “What qualifies as a wrongful death lawsuit?”
What Is a Wrongful Death?
According to Maryland §3-901, a wrongful death has occurred when, if the decedent had survived the act that caused their death, they would have been entitled to recover compensation for damages in a personal injury claim.
In other words, a wrongful death is the result of another person’s negligent actions, misconduct, omission, or intentional act. This entitles the victim’s surviving family members to certain civil protections, including compensation for damages.
When Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
You and your family may file a lawsuit within three years of the date of your loved one’s wrongful death. While this might seem like a long period of time, it will pass by faster than you realize. In regard to legal action, three years does not grant much wiggle room to meet with a lawyer, build a claim, and file your case.
Although your case’s statute of limitations may be subject to exceptions, such as the exception that grants families 10 years to file a lawsuit for a death caused by an occupational disease, the sooner you take action, the sooner your family will be able to secure the compensation you need.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases
At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, we have experience handling a broad range of wrongful death cases for Baltimore families. We’ll discuss some of the most common types of wrongful death lawsuits here, but do not hesitate to contact our law office for a free consultation.
Some of the most common accidents that lead to wrongful death lawsuits include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of preventable injury-related deaths in the United States. In Maryland, there were 308 traffic fatalities in 2022 alone. Some of the most common causes of fatal car accidents in Maryland include:
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Distracted driving (especially texting while driving)
- Drowsing driving
- Road rage and aggressive driving
If your loved one was killed by a driver who was acting negligently or recklessly behind the wheel, your family may be owed compensation.
A study from Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Any time that a health care provider acts negligently or deviates from the accepted standard of care, there is the potential for patients to suffer serious harm.
Medical errors that can cause fatalities include:
- Diagnostic errors
- Surgical errors
- Medication errors
- Anesthesia errors
If your loved one died after acquiring an infection in a hospital or receiving an incorrect diagnosis, you have the legal right to hold the negligent doctor accountable for their actions.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,764 workers were killed in 2020. Of these, 1,038 deaths occurred in work-related vehicle accidents. If your loved one was killed in a workplace accident, your family may have two options for financial recovery—pursuing survivor benefits through Maryland’s workers’ compensation system or filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Workers’ compensation typically bars families from filing a lawsuit against employers, but there may be a liable third party who can be held responsible. A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against a:
- Contracted worker or company
- Negligent driver
- Manufacturer of defective parts or tools
Don’t let an employer’s workers’ compensation insurer tell your family what your rights are—they are only interested in protecting themselves and their bottom lines. Instead, work with an experienced attorney who will stand up for what your family deserves.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Baltimore?
Maryland state law allows the following parties to bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit:
If the decedent does not have a surviving spouse, child, or parent who can file this lawsuit, state law permits any family member (related by either blood or marriage) to file instead. However, this individual must be able to prove that they relied significantly on the victim, or they will not be permitted to file.
Taking the First Step To File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The unexpected loss of a loved one is an understandably difficult matter that we strive to treat with sensitivity and compassion. When you contact Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC to discuss your claim, we want you to feel confident in our ability to fight for your family. That means we’re transparent about every step of the process, from the initial investigation and valuing of your claim to actually filing the lawsuit and negotiating a settlement.
Your family is not alone. Our lawyers are standing by to speak with you, so please reach out at your earliest convenience to schedule a free case evaluation.
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