The right to recover for the wrongful death of a loved one is a right created by the legislature and not by the courts through common law precedent. Under the Maryland Wrongful Death Act, Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code Ann. § 3-901, et seq. (2009), the following persons are entitled to recover for the death of a relative:
(B) Minor child of the deceased;
(C) Parent of a deceased minor child;
(D) Parent of a deceased adult child younger than 22, or to whom the parent contributed more than 50% support.
An illegitimate minor child may recover and is by law considered the child of the mother unless judicially determined in a prior family law proceeding that the child is the father’s, or the father, prior to the death of the child, acknowledges in writing that he is the father or has acted openly as if he is the father.
If there is no person satisfying the criteria as a primary beneficiary, a secondary beneficiary may recover if he or she is related by blood or marriage to the deceased and who can prove they were “wholly dependent” upon the deceased. Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code Ann. § 3-904(b).
Wrongful death claims are complex and become increasingly more difficult as the number of primary beneficiaries increase. Some family members are estranged or missing, and many decedents die without a will, which may provide for a different hierarchy of beneficiaries at the decedent’s choosing.
The lawyers at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC have handled numerous wrongful death cases arising from a variety of tragic accidents, including motor vehicle collisions, plane and train crashes, construction accidents, and acts of medical negligence. Please feel free to contact our firm with questions you have about your wrongful death claim.