Do You Have a Maryland Wrongful Death Case?

By Peter DePaolis

If your loved one met with an untimely death, you might be wondering, do you have a Maryland wrongful death case? The answer to that question will depend on the cause of the death and your relationship with the person who died.

Wrongful death cases tend to face aggressive defense by defendants because there is usually a great deal of money at stake. You will want to talk with a Maryland personal injury attorney if you think that you might have a wrongful death claim. Our state does not give you much time to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for wrongful death, so you do not want to wait too long before talking with a lawyer.

What Kind of Death Can Be a Wrongful Death Under Maryland Law?

Our state law, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §3-901(e), defines a wrongful act, for purposes of a wrongful death claim, as “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.” Put into plain language, the wrongful act must be one of these four things:

  • Negligence, like speeding, causes a fatal collision.
  • The careless failure to do something that one should have done, like failing to properly secure a massive pet boa constrictor when there are infants or toddlers in the residence.
  • Behaving recklessly without regard for the safety of others, like setting off powerful fireworks when in a crowd.
  • Intentional crimes, like road rage.

Also, to qualify as wrongful death, the loss of life must be the direct result of a wrongful act.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland?

No matter how close you might have been to the person who died at the hands of another, you must be a close blood relative or spouse of the deceased person to have legal standing to make a claim or file a lawsuit for wrongful death in Maryland. Unmarried friends or partners do not qualify as plaintiffs in wrongful death cases in our state.

The surviving spouse, parent, and child of the deceased person can be beneficiaries in a wrongful death claim. If there are no surviving spouses, parents, or children, but there is another person related by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent on the decedent, that person can qualify as a beneficiary in the wrongful death claim.

Types of Money Damages for Wrongful Death

A jury can award damages for the financial losses caused by the decedent’s death, like the loss of income and other financial support as well as the value of services the individual provided for the family. Also, the qualifying beneficiaries can seek damages for their emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, and the loss of the decedent’s comfort, attention, guidance, companionship, and similar items. The jury will decide how much money to award and the proportions for each beneficiary.

A Maryland personal injury attorney can advocate for you if your close loved one died because of a wrongful act. Get in touch with our office today for a free consultation.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.