The loss of anyone can be hard to come to terms with—even if they’ve lived a long, fulfilling life. However, the sudden, premature passing of a loved one, whether at the early stages or prime of their life, can feel particularly shocking and gut wrenching. If your close family member is no longer here because of someone else’s negligent actions, then reach out to a Lanham wrongful death lawyer in our office.
Our legal team is comprised of attorneys who believe in holding negligent parties liable for their careless or reckless actions that resulted in someone else’s preventable passing. We pursue every possible defendant who had a hand in causing your family member’s death and don’t stop negotiating or litigating until we recover just and maximum compensation allowable per Maryland law.
Our attorneys are primed and ready to provide you with the zealous legal advocacy you need to handle as serious of a legal matter as this. Contact us for a free initial consultation with GDH Law today.
What Is a Wrongful Death Per Maryland Law?
The Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 3-904 of the Maryland Code outlines the many different circumstances under which someone could plausibly lose their life wrongfully due to someone else’s negligence. Some of the circumstances referenced in this state statute include:
- Occupational disease: The statute spells out how this may include toxic substance exposure that occurred in the decedent’s workplace.
- Physical or violent acts: The state statute above refers to wrongful acts that may have contributed to the decedent becoming a homicide victim, like, for example, an assault. That same statute describes how potential accomplices’ actions may amount to them being civilly responsible for the wrongful death, too.
Other types of passings not specifically outlined in the above-referenced statute that may also constitute a wrongful death include:
- Transportation accidents: This can include auto accidents like car, pedestrian, motorcycle, truck, bike, bus, and any other type of crash like an airplane, boat, train, or subway one.
- Dangerous property situations: This may include a dog attack, an accidental drowning, a slip and fall, or any other premises liability scenario.
- Defective product scenarios: Any instance in which someone uses a product for advertised purposes and per instructions, and it harms them, causing their death.
- Medical malpractice: Medication, surgical, and diagnostic errors, along with childbirth injuries, are examples of negligence that can cause a person’s untimely demise.
- Nursing home abuse or neglect: Deaths may occur due to brain injuries sustained during a slip and fall or if a resident contracts a communicable illness or infection from poor hygiene or neglect, for example.
- Workplace accidents: A struck-by, caught-in, or crush injury could result in a worker’s demise, and so too could employee-instigated violence.
While the list above isn’t comprehensive, the key here is that a plaintiff only needs to be able to show that it’s unlikely that the crash or other incident would have occurred in the first place or that it’s unlikely that it would have been fatal had it not been for a defendant’s negligence. Provided a plaintiff can produce enough evidence to support those claims, it may warrant filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Prince George’s County.
How To Prove a Lanham Wrongful Death Claim
There are four elements a plaintiff must establish to prove liability when filing a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit, including:
- A duty of care existed: This refers to exercising caution so as to not unnecessarily pose any danger to others. Some examples include a physician having an obligation to adhere to standard protocol in treating a patient or a motorist driving in a way that was mindful of fellow motorists’ safety.
- The defendant breached their duty of care: This entails documenting how the defendant failed to exercise their duty of care, such as adhering to the speed limit, following standard protocol in treating a patient, or keeping their premises or equipment safe so it didn’t cause potential harm.
- Causation: This is the connection between a person’s actions (or lack thereof) and the adverse outcome, choices which could have prevented the fatal injuries or decedent’s subsequent passing had they been different.
- There were actual damages suffered: These may include the quantifiable losses like medical bills, funeral costs, or lost future earnings incurred as a result of the fatal accident.
You likely meet the necessary requirements to file a Lanham wrongful death claim, provided you can prove the abovementioned elements. A Lanham wrongful death lawyer from our office can review your case’s specific details to confirm if that’s the case.
Who Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Maryland?
Only specific family members of the deceased are eligible to file wrongful death lawsuits in Maryland, including the decedent’s surviving:
The same state statute referenced above spells out circumstances in which a more distantly related blood relative may have a right to file suit if none of the immediate family members exist.
Also discussed in that statute are special circumstances that may affect a surviving family member’s ability to recoup any compensation recovered through the filing of a wrongful death action, such as a parent of a deceased child who was convicted of certain criminal offenses.
Further, that same state statute also describes circumstances under which a minor child may be deemed to only belong to the mother (if parents were unmarried to one another), thus only allowing her to file suit following the death of a child.
Damages Recoverable by Filing a Maryland Wrongful Death Claim
Economic damages a surviving family member can recover by filing a wrongful death case in Lanham, MD, include losses for the following:
- Any medical bills they accumulated after their accident and before their passing
- Cremation or funeral and burial costs
- Lost wages (from missing work prior to their death) and future lost earnings (wages they would have made had they not passed away)
There are noneconomic damages in addition to the economic ones listed above that deceased victims’ family members may be able to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit, including these:
- Loss of protection, companionship, consortium, or comfort
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
It’s important to note that there are caps on recoverable noneconomic damages in some types of cases. For example, in medical malpractice cases, the cap for noneconomic damages is $875,000 for 2023. The cap for noneconomic damages in wrongful death is $1,093,750, provided claims are made by two or more family members. Damage caps don’t currently exist in our state for wrongful death economic compensation.
What Statute of Limitations Applies to Prince George’s County Wrongful Death Claims?
The Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings § 5-101 gives wrongful death plaintiffs three years to file a claim. Special circumstances may mean that the statute of limitations doesn’t commence until their actual death occurs as opposed to when the personal injury happened. An example of this is a situation where a victim survived for some time after receiving their diagnosis with what turned out to be a terminal illness or injury.
How Our Lanham Wrongful Death Lawyers Help You Pursue Justice
It can be hard to think of much more than grieving your loved one’s sudden passing in the days and months after it occurs; however, that’s perhaps the most critical time frame from the perspective of a legal team. “Why?” you might ask. It comes down to preserving evidence in a case that can ultimately make or break it.
For example, if a truck accident claimed your loved one’s life, the owner-operator trucker or a fleet company may rush to fix damage to their truck or erase electronic data—anything that would substantiate that they’re liable for the crash. The same logic may apply in virtually any other type of personal injury incident. While it’s not right for potential at-fault parties to destroy evidence that establishes their liability, it happens more than you think.
We know what type of evidence defendants may seek to destroy and file necessary legal motions to put a stop to such an occurrence. And then, we compile any evidence we collect in building a strong case that paints a clear picture of the defendant’s liability for causing your loved one’s death.
Getting our GDH Law team involved early on in your case also reduces your need to be involved in emotionally draining and often-contentious conversations with at-fault parties or their insurers. We handle those on your behalf once you hire us to work for you. This includes negotiating an out-of-court settlement and taking the case to trial if necessary to get you maximum compensation in your case.
There’s no risk or obligation in sitting down with a Lanham wrongful death lawyer in our office to discuss the merits of your case. So, please schedule that free initial case review by contacting us now so that we can prioritize the preservation of your rights and evidence for the best possible outcome in your legal matter.