Maryland Wrongful Death Lawyers
When someone dies unexpectedly, it can be extremely difficult for loved ones left behind to cope with the loss and move forward. This is especially true when the person’s untimely death is due to the negligence or wrongful actions of someone else.
The surviving family is left with a massive emotional wound filled with heartbreak, loneliness and distress. If the loved one was a financial caretaker or provider, this impact is even more severe. There is a sudden loss of income, protection and care, and there may be nobody else to step into that role.
In this trying time, you may feel a burning desire to hold the right person accountable for your loved one’s death. Unfortunately, it’s very challenging to go up against powerful insurance companies.
Suing for wrongful death may be the best step forward, but it can also be a stressful and time-consuming experience. If you are considering this step, you need a wrongful death attorney who can advocate for your family in court and accurately demonstrate the impact of your loved one’s death.
During this chaotic period in your life, you need the support of the legal team at Zirkin & Schmerling. We will protect your interests and fight for the compensation you deserve after losing someone you love.
Making a Wrongful Death Case
Under the Maryland Wrongful Death Law, families can seek compensation for the loss of a loved one due to another’s wrongful action. The statute specifies that wrongful death and survival damages “may be awarded to the beneficiaries proportioned to the injury resulting from the wrongful death.”
The Maryland Court of Appeals defines “wrongful action” as any act for which the deceased person would have been able to seek their own compensation if they had not died. In their place, a loved one can act.
Injuries and deaths as a result of wrongful acts are, sadly, very common. According to the Centers for Disease Control, deaths from unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in the United States and result in about 170,000 deaths each year.
What many people don’t realize is that a death can be “unintentional” but still wrongful under Maryland law. For example, a doctor might not intend to harm you through malpractice, but they can still be held liable for malpractice in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Our attorneys can help with Maryland wrongful death cases, including:
- Medical malpractice
- Automobile, bicycle and pedestrian collisions
- Car, truck and motorcycle accidents
- Accidents involving defective or dangerous products
- Assault and neglect
- Premises liability accidents, such as falls
- Recreational accidents
- On-the-job accidents or illnesses
There is generally no limit to the economic damages you can win from a wrongful death suit in Maryland; however, there is a limit to other noneconomic damages, which is set at a cap of $860,000 in 2019.
This cap increases if there are multiple beneficiaries involved and you may be able to recover as much as $2 million or more.
Maryland allows for non-economic damages involving emotional pain, mental anguish, suffering and the loss of companionship, comfort, counsel, protection, advice and education due to the death of your loved one.
Consider all types of harm both you and your deceased loved one have suffered when making a wrongful death claim. With the help of a wrongful death lawyer, you may be able to recover compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of income/wages
- Loss of health benefits and other benefits
- Loss of companionship and comfort
- Certain household services
- Reduced quality of life for the deceased prior to their death
- Your own emotional pain as a result of the incident
- Medical costs incurred due to the injury and/or death
- Punitive damages, in the case of gross negligence, malice or intent to harm
What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action?
Although both of these actions can be undertaken after the death of a loved one, a wrongful death action and a survival action are actually two entirely separate claims that can be brought to court independent of one another. Understanding the subtle distinction between the two can be a challenge.
Here’s a concise way to draw a distinction between them:
- A wrongful death action is filed on behalf of the victim’s family.
- A survival action is filed on behalf of the estate of the victim.
A wrongful death action is designed to compensate the family of the deceased person for their financial and emotional loss. For instance, if a parent dies in a car accident, thechildren and spouse may be able to seek compensation for any emotional suffering that they experienced. They can also argue that the loss caused financial harm by removing a vital source of income.
By contrast, a survival action seeks to directly compensate the person who lost their life. Under Maryland law, deceased victims are still legally recognized by the court. Since a person who has died is no longer able to defend themselves and pursue the claim, a representative of their estate can take up the case on their behalf.
When you are considering wrongful death and/or survival actions, be very careful about who you trust to provide legal advice during this time. Do not take legal advice from friends and family who may not have a complete understanding of the law or may even be trying to get you to give up your legal rights.
Never assume that you can take the same route a friend or family member took after someone else’s death. Every case is unique. Your wrongful death or survival action may take a different course from someone else you know. Rely only on the advice of your wrongful death lawyer from Zirkin & Schmerling.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases in Maryland
Many people assume wrongful death cases revolve around intentional acts and outright crimes, like shootings and stabbings. This isn’t the case. Wrongful death involves an enormous variety of accidents, collisions, negligence, dangers and other things that aren’t necessarily intentional.
Here are some common cases where a wrongful death case may be brought. Is your situation similar to any of these?
Was your loved one hit by a car while walking across the street? Or did the car leave the road and collide with them on the sidewalk? Almost 6,000 people are killed every year in the U.S. due to pedestrian collisions like these.
Were they riding a bicycle at the time of the accident? About 780 bicyclists are killed every year in the U.S., primarily by people driving passenger vehicles or trucks. Sadly, during the last 10 years when overall auto fatalities decreased, bicyclist deaths have increased.
Did your loved one die in an automobile collision where they were a driver or passenger? Nearly 1.25 million people die in road collisions every year, which is more than 3,200 deaths per day.
Truck crashes are the number one most severe type of crashes on the road, with a higher risk of death due to the extreme forces involved. If your loved one died in a trucking accident, you may be able to establish a wrongful death case.
In medical malpractice cases, an act or negligence on the part of a medical doctor or facility is at the heart of the case. Did a doctor fail to diagnose an illness or make a prescription error? If you believe your loved one died as a result of medical malpractice, discuss your concerns with a Maryland wrongful death lawyer.
Did you know you may be able to sue for wrongful death due to a defective product like an auto part or kitchen gadget? If a poorly-made or contaminated product contributed to the death of your loved one, you may have a wrongful death case.
Some products and services are extremely dangerous to use and create situations that can lead to death. When the death of a loved one was due to a dangerous activity or item, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the company that offered it.
While overall violent crime is on the decrease, assault is on the rise in the U.S. There has been a rise in assaults between 1% and 2.5% since 2017, depending on the type of assault involved. Thousands of these assaults have led to someone’s death and a wrongful injury claim.
If you believe your loved one’s death was due to someone’s neglect, you may have a wrongful death case. This could include neglect of a child, someone with a physical or intellectual disability, an older or bedridden adult or another vulnerable person.
Nursing Home Abuse
When someone dies due to abuse and/or neglect in a nursing home, it can be an emotionally destructive experience for the loved ones left behind. You may be able to sue for the nursing home’s failure to care for your loved one appropriately.
Did your loved one die while incarcerated? Jail deaths are on the rise and Maryland has had several high-profile jail deaths that led to wrongful death lawsuits. If your loved one died due to a jailhouse assault, illness, abuse, neglect, overdose or suicide, speak to a wrongful death attorney about your options.
Slip and Fall
Did your loved one die on someone else’s premises, perhaps after encountering a dangerous area where they slipped and fell? These premises liability accidents can be candidates for wrongful death lawsuits.
Swimming Pool Death
If your child drowns in someone else’s pool, you may have a wrongful death case. Under Maryland’s pool-related liability laws, you could win a wrongful death case even if your child did not have permission to be on the pool owner’s property and was trespassing.
Boating or Fishing Death
When a day of boating goes horribly wrong and results in the death of a loved one, you may be able to win a wrongful death case against the boat driver/owner.
Industrial Site Accident
Did your loved one die in a construction zone? Industrial and construction sites can be extremely dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, construction workers incur more fatal injuries than workers in any other sector.
When you’re considering a wrongful death case, make the call to Zirkin & Schmerling as quickly as possible or contact us online for a free case assessment. You deserve the best legal representation in Maryland and we are fully qualified to handle your wrongful death claim professionally and efficiently.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland?
According to Maryland Wrongful Death law, the spouse, child or parent of a deceased person may recover lost financial support as a result of their death. They may also be able to recover damages for emotional distress and other types of mental anguish.
If there is no spouse, child or parent, “any person who is related by blood or marriage to the victim and who was substantially dependent upon the victim may bring the action.” This, however, comes with some exceptions and depends on the particular case.
In most cases, someone who cohabitated with the deceased but was not married to them cannot qualify as the beneficiary in a wrongful death case unless there are no other qualified claimants/heirs.
Under Wrongful Death and Intestacy Statutes, the State of Maryland describes and prioritizes who can make claims on behalf of a deceased person, as follows:
SPOUSE/MINOR CHILDREN: First in line of priority would be the surviving spouse and minor children, not including stepchildren. The spouse receives half of the estate, with minor children sharing the remaining half.
SPOUSE/ADULT CHILDREN: For a spouse and adult children, not including stepchildren, the spouse receives $15,000 plus half of the remaining estate and the adult children would share the remainder of the estate equally.
CHILDREN ONLY: If there is no surviving spouse, the children would divide the estate equally, not including stepchildren or children of other generations.
SPOUSE/PARENTS: In this case, a spouse receives $15,000 plus half of the remaining estate and the two parents divide the remainder or a sole surviving parent receives the entire amount.
SPOUSE/NO OTHER HEIRS: If there are no other heirs listed above, the entire estate passes solely to the spouse.
NO SPOUSE/PARENTS: If there is no spouse or other heirs listed above, both parents equally share the estate.
SIBLINGS/NO OTHER HEIRS: If there are only blood siblings with no other heirs listed above, siblings of the deceased divide the estate equally among them, not including stepsiblings.
If you need help understanding wrongful death laws, intestacy laws and how these claims are prioritized, reach out to the Maryland wrongful death lawyers at Zirkin & Schmerling. We know how complex this area of the law can be, and we’re here to assist you with gaining clarity about how it all works. Simply contact us to request a case evaluation.
Is There a Time Limit on Filing a Wrongful Death or Survival Action?
Yes, there is a very strict time limit. When considering whether a lawsuit is the right choice for your family, contacting a wrongful death attorney immediately is crucial. Maryland law has a firm three-year statute of limitations for these lawsuits.
If the family does not file a lawsuit within the necessary time period, then they will never be able to do so in the future. The court will typically throw out claims filed after the three-year time limit without a hearing or any further consideration. Time is of the essence.
To move quickly on your wrongful death case, it is incredibly important to select a wrongful death attorney with a proven record of experience and knowledge.
At Zirkin & Schmerling, our many years of experience have given us the knowledge and emotional sensitivity to help your family during this challenging time. To schedule your free consultation, please contact us at 410-753-4611 or make an appointment online.
Will There Be an Investigation into the Wrongful Death?
There may be a criminal investigation but this would be separate from your wrongful death or survival action case. The police and other authorities will handle their own investigation. Meanwhile, you and your wrongful death attorney can start a separate investigation related to your wrongful death case.
These investigations rely on third-party sources of information to bolster your case and make the facts known. Here are some common types of documentation and sources of information your lawyer may help you gather:
- Medical records
- Toxicology reports
- Police reports
- Investigative reports from government agencies
- Internal records from involved companies and other organizations
- Photos and videos on public and private premises
It takes time to gather all of this kind of information, so don’t be surprised if your wrongful death case moves slowly after the initial rush to file your case.
Your attorney must work carefully to put together a rock-solid case that includes complete, accurate and impactful information that will lead to your best possible outcome.
Will My Wrongful Death Case Go to Court?
As with all civil cases, your case may or may not actually go to court. If the basic facts of the case are in dispute, or if one party feels very strongly that nothing will satisfy them except going to trial, a trial may be unavoidable.
Much of the time, however, there is no need for a trial. When the facts of the case become clear through the help of your attorney, the parties involved may decide that settlement is a better alternative.
A settlement ends the case by creating an agreement between the parties. This is an act of mutual agreement and can’t be forced on either party by the other.
Settlement cases must be negotiated carefully with the help of an experienced wrongful death lawyer. Your lawyer from Zirkin & Schmerling will know how to negotiate a settlement that always keeps your best interests at the forefront.
Maryland Wrongful Death Resources:
How to Select an Experienced Maryland Wrongful Death Lawyer
In a situation that involves the complex matters of wrongful death, survival action, estates and heirs, you need a Maryland wrongful death lawyer who can handle the multiple legal issues that arise. Consider these important factors:
Experience. Do they have the credentials to represent you? Are they experienced with many types of wrongful death cases in Maryland?
Results. A good wrongful death attorney will serve as your legal voice during a difficult time when you may be overwhelmed with grief. Can your lawyer get the best possible results for you, while minimizing the impact of this case on your family’s lives?
Reputation. Your lawyer must have a golden reputation with the courts and a firm grasp of the precise laws involved with wrongful death actions. Does your lawyer have a reputation for getting very positive results for clients in wrongful death cases?
Your future and the security of your family depends on the outcome of this case. There’s only one name you should keep in mind when you’re considering experience, results and reputation for Maryland’s wrongful death cases. That name is Zirkin & Schmerling.
To learn more, please contact Zirkin & Schmerling Law today at 410-753-4611 to get in touch with a qualified, experienced wrongful death attorney in Maryland.
Our lawyers can provide an initial evaluation of your case entirely free of charge. We can’t erase the past trauma of your loved one’s death but we can give you the representation, understanding and advocacy you deserve going forward.
Need Answers About Wrongful Death? We’re Here to Help.
If you feel like you need some legal help, contact our wrongful death/survival action attorney to schedule a free case evaluation today.