Maryland Wrongful Death Lawyers
Serving Those in the Prince George's, Charles, Calvert, and Anne Arundel Area
When a wrongful death occurs, you should immediately seek the legal advice of an experienced attorney. A successful wrongful death lawsuit provides financial assistance to surviving loved ones as well as justice for the victim who lost their life. At Potter Burnett Law, we represent those who have lost loved ones as a result of third-party negligence or recklessness.
What Is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death occurs when someone dies as the result of another person’s reckless or negligent action. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action, but the at-fault party may also be charged criminally as well, depending on the circumstances. The civil litigation compensates the family left behind while the criminal case seeks to hold them accountable to the state, including any prison or fines imposed.
Some examples of wrongful death can be the result of:
- Drunk Driving
- Commercial Drivers Working Beyond Hours-of-Service Regulations
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Slips and Falls
- Intentional Killing
- Product Defects
Wrongful death can also occur in association with medical malpractice. In these cases, the patient dies as a result of a physician’s error or misconduct. When someone dies while receiving medical care it does not automatically mean it is a wrongful death. Medical malpractice happens when a medical professional (physician, surgeon, anesthesiologist, and more) causes their death because they didn’t provide the standard of care that another reasonably competent and skilled medical professional would have provided in similar circumstances.
Medical malpractice wrongful death cases include:
- Preventable Birth Injuries
- Delayed C-Sections
- Mismanaged Childbirth Complications
- Diagnostic Errors
- Surgical Errors
- Anesthesia Errors
- Failures To Diagnose/Treat Bacterial Meningitis
- General Negligence by Healthcare Professionals
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit?
Wrongful death allows a lawsuit to be filed even though the person who was harmed is no longer alive to bring the case. The heirs of a decedent – the parents, children, and spouse – can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or persons at fault. If there are no primary beneficiaries surviving the decedent, any person related by blood or marriage and who was substantially dependent on the deceased may file the wrongful death claim.
Our wrongful death team serves Prince George's County, Anne Arundel County, Charles County, Baltimore, and the Maryland/Washington, D.C. metro area.
What Types of Damages Can Be Awarded?
The money awarded to survivors is to compensate them for damages suffered in connection to the wrongful death.
In Maryland, wrongful death damages can include:
- Costs of medical bills the deceased encumbered before their death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Financial contributions the deceased would have made to survivors
- Mental anguish, emotional pain, and suffering,
- Loss of marital care, parental care, or filial care the deceased would have provided
- Loss of attention, advice, and counsel the deceased would have provided
Maryland has a cap on the amount of non-economic damages a court can award a plaintiff. The award limit depends on when the injuries happened. Those happening in 2021 are limited to $845,000 and each subsequent year increases by $15,000. In wrongful death cases with two or more beneficiaries, the total award for non-economic damages, no matter the number of beneficiaries, is limited to 125% of the cap for that year. Washington, D.C. has no damage caps.
Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Suit
Maryland’s statute of limitations on wrongful death claims is three years from the date of the death of the decedent. The same is true in D.C.
In addition to wrongful death, there is a survival action. While a wrongful death lawsuit focuses on the financial losses and grief of the family, survival action focuses on the perspective of the decedent. A survival action can be brought by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate as named in the will or by a probate court. A survival action can also recover losses such as lost wages (from the time of injury until death), medical bills, funeral costs, and pain and suffering prior to death. Maryland allows a family to pursue both wrongful death and survival claims.
Justice for Your Loved One
The devastation felt when a loved one dies can be intense. Understanding the seven stages of grief is often little comfort as we attempt to move forward in our lives. The sense of loss felt is often heightened when the death didn’t have to happen, when someone’s negligence or carelessness caused the untimely end of their life.
While no amount of money can bring back your loved one or lessen the pain felt from their absence, holding the responsible party accountable can be an important step in closure and help to financially provide for the family left behind. Our Maryland wrongful death attorneys at Potter Burnett Law can help.
Wrongful Death FAQ
- What happens if the defendant is criminally charged for the death?
In many cases, an accident that causes a wrongful death can be considered a criminal act. For example, if a driver causes a fatal car accident, then they might be charged with vehicular manslaughter depending on the state in which the accident occurred. If the defendant is criminally charged with your loved one’s death, then they will have to defend against the state’s prosecution. This does not stop you from filing a civil claim against them, which means they will have to defend against your attorney’s actions as well. Because the criminal evidence used against the defendant can also be used in your case, it is often advised that you begin your wrongful death claim after all criminal proceedings end if possible. Our lawyers can help you figure out the right time to file, though.
- Are you allowed to get punitive damages in a wrongful death claim?
Punitive damages are ruled against a civil defendant that has done harm to a claimant through egregious negligence or criminal wrongdoing. In most cases, punitive damages are rare because “accidents happen.” But they are more likely in wrongful death cases because the consequence of the negligence is so heavy and permanent. Still, punitive damages are not something you should rely on receiving in your claim. Our attorneys will let you know if they’re an option, but we can’t promise that such damages will be achievable.
- Is it a wrongful death if the defendant intentionally caused the death?
Yes, a wrongful death can and often is the result of criminal and intentional wrongdoing. If someone intentionally took the life of your loved one, then you can bring a wrongful death case against them, just as you would if it was an accident.
If you have a potential wrongful death or survival action lawsuit, schedule a consultation so that we can review and discuss your case. Reach us by phone at (301) 820-7820 or through our online contact form.
In 1996, a Clarksburg man was in a motor vehicle accident while driving his 1987 Ford F-150 pickup.
Debbie Potter secured a $5,900,000 settlement of a premises liability case in 2023.
Our client suffered a comminuted fracture of his arm when a commercial vehicle pulled out in front of him on the highway.
Baltimore mother and daughter rear-ended on route 301 in Virginia. Physical therapy treatment only.
- Vehicle Defect
- Premises Liability
- Medication Error Settlement
- Car Accident Verdict
- Car Accident Verdict