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What is involved in a wrongful death claim?

| May 24, 2021 | personal injury |

When a loved one’s life is suddenly cut short by a tragic event, the pain for those who were connected to that person is unbearable. Making sense in the aftermath of an accident that was caused by the negligence of another is difficult enough without also being faced with fewer financial resources, especially when there have been both a loss of income and costly expenses from medical bills and funeral arrangements.

While insurance should cover some if not all of these expenses, it can be challenging when insurance companies delay or deny claims, which adds to the already heavy grief the family members must endure. The procedures, statutes of limitations for filing and levels of compensation that loved ones can receive are guided by state laws.

For residents of Maryland, having the dedicated and skilled guidance of legal counsel serving Severna Park can help them to not only get results from insurance companies, but also pursue financial compensation in a wrongful death claim if necessary.

How difficult is it to prove negligence or intent to harm?

In a criminal case, the standard of proof for establishing guilt is much higher, and for this reason wrongful death claims are usually filed in civil court. Where a criminal case requires that the plaintiff prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, in a civil case, proving responsibility for the death of another is based on a preponderance of the evidence.

In Maryland, a wrongful death claim is considered to be the natural action by the family for a personal injury claim that the injured party would pursue if still alive. Claims may arise from any number of circumstances, whether it is from vehicular accidents, occupational exposure to toxic substances, bad faith health or life insurance denials or medical malpractice.

A wrongful death suit will be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, and to be successful requires several elements:

  • The death of a person
  • The cause, which is another’s negligence or intent to harm
  • The financial injury the death has caused the surviving family
  • The appointment of a personal representative for the decedent’s estate

What can Maryland residents claim?

Two types of claims may be brought in Maryland, either wrongful death claims or survival actions. A wrongful death action can result not only in compensation for lost wages and financial support, but also mental, emotional pain and suffering, as well as loss of companionship/consortium.