Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult and traumatic experiences anyone has to go through. However, knowing that a loved one died because of someone else's negligence can make dealing with the loss even more painful. It does not seem fair that someone died, while the person responsible is still walking around. However, the law provides a remedy in some situations. The surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim, to hold the negligent individual responsible for the damage they caused.
Under Maryland law, a person or company who caused the death of someone through a wrongful act can be held liable for damages. Even though the injured person is not alive to file a claim against the negligent party, an action for damages can be brought on their behalf. Generally, wrongful death claims are brought by close relatives, such as a parent, spouse, or child of the deceased.
Wrongful Death Claims
Most wrongful death claims in Maryland have a three-year statute of limitations. However, under some circumstances, the time limit can be longer or shorter. It is important to talk to your attorney about filing a wrongful death claim to make sure the lawsuit is not barred by some time restriction.
The wrongful death of another can be caused by any number of reasons. This includes automobile accidents, medical mistakes, an automobile defect that causes an accident, workplace injuries, occupational hazards, product defects, bike accidents, or intentional actions, such as assault.
In some cases, the family may be unaware that the death of a loved one was caused by negligence of another individual or company. Many medical malpractice deaths go unaccounted for because the doctor does not admit that a mistake was made, and the family does not know what happened leading up to the individual's death. If you suspect wrongdoing lead to a family member's death, you can talk to an attorney about your suspicions. They may be able to investigate the claim and help to determine if you have a case.
Wrongful Death Damages
In a wrongful death case, the damages can be based on the economic losses related to the individual's death, as well as noneconomic damages. Economic damages include the loss of financial support to the family, loss of benefits, and value of lost services. Noneconomic damages included pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of companionship. The types of damages available may depend on the relationship between the deceased and the survivors.
Wrongful Death Settlements
While family members are mourning the loss of a loved one, the individual or company responsible for the death may try and present a settlement offer. This usually requires the surviving family to promise not to sue the company for the wrongful death. Some families accept a quick settlement offer because they don't want to have to go through a lawsuit. However, before signing away your rights, you should make sure you understand what the offer means for you and your family.
Some companies offer a quick settlement because they are worried a jury will find them responsible for the death. You should consider talking to your attorney before you decide to accept any settlement offer, to make sure it is fair in light of your tragic loss.
Wrongful Death Criminal Charges
In some cases, the person allegedly responsible for causing another person's death may be facing criminal charges. The family will usually have to wait until after the criminal proceeding before they can go ahead with a civil lawsuit. However, just because the law does not find the individual guilty for causing the death of another, you may still have a successful wrongful death claim.
The standard of proof is higher for criminal cases than for civil cases. A criminal prosecution usually requires proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is any reasonable doubt that the accused is not responsible, they may be found not guilty. However, in a civil case, the burden of proof is usually “by a preponderance of the evidence.”
Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you lost a loved one in an accident or other tragic event, you may have a wrongful death claim for damages. No amount of money can bring back your lost family member; however, the individuals responsible for causing the death should be held responsible. A wrongful death claim can help to make sure the person responsible is held accountable, so that others won't have to suffer a similar tragedy. Your personal injury attorney will help guide you through the difficult process. Call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.