Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when their death is sudden and unexpected. Unfortunately, far too many Maryland families know firsthand what it’s like to lose a loved one in a motorcycle accident, especially because motorcycle accidents are somewhat more likely to result in death. Because motorcyclists are not protected in the same way drivers are by their cars, accidents involving them can result in motorcyclists being thrown from their motorcycle or otherwise hurt. For example, take a recent tragedy involving a motorcyclist who was killed just this month when a driver pulled out in front of him and caused a crash.
In the aftermath of this and other similar and fatal accidents, families may find themselves struggling, and overwhelmed with grief due to the psychological impact of losing a loved one suddenly. At the same time, they also may find themselves having to figure out how to pay for medical bills, or cover funeral and burial expenses. While nothing can undo the harm that was caused and stop the grief from occurring, Maryland state law allows families to file a wrongful death suit to help with the finances.
Wrongful death suits are civil suits brought in court against the driver who caused the accident and the fatality. Unlike criminal charges, which aim to punish the driver, civil cases focus solely on helping the victim and their family recover financial compensation. In wrongful death cases, a victim’s family generally must prove four things. First, that the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim. This is usually easy to prove—Maryland drivers owe a duty of care to all others on the road with them and must drive reasonably carefully to avoid harming others. Second, the family must prove that the defendant breached that duty. They may want to offer evidence that the driver purposefully did not stop at a stoplight, or that they were texting while driving—a breach of their duty to be careful. Third, they must prove that this breach was the cause of the injury. If the driver was texting while driving 10 minutes before the accident but then the actual accident was caused by something unrelated, then the texting did not cause the injury. Lastly, they must prove that actual harm was suffered as a result. Usually, the death of a loved one is sufficient to meet this element, but they must prove that the death was actually a result—not a poorly timed independent event.