Articles Posted in Wrongful Death Cases

A wrongful death claim is a claim brought after a person’s death that was caused by a defendant’s wrongful act. Under Maryland’s Wrongful Death Act, a family member may be able to recover financial compensation due to their family member’s untimely death. A wrongful death claim is meant to compensate grieving family members, allowing them to recover for acts that would have entitled the decedent to recover compensation if they had survived.

A Maryland wrongful death claim is generally filed by a primary beneficiary. Spouses, parents, and children are considered “primary” plaintiffs under the Act. In a case where the decedent has no spouse, parent, or child, a wrongful death claim may be filed by another person who was substantially dependent upon the decedent and was related to the deceased person by blood or by marriage. These plaintiffs are considered secondary beneficiaries, which is why they can only recover if no primary beneficiary exists. Only one wrongful death claim can be filed based on the death of one decedent. Normally, the wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the death of the decedent.

In a wrongful death case, a defendant can, and often will, argue that the decedent is partially at fault for their death. Because Maryland follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, a plaintiff may be barred from recovering altogether in a wrongful death case if the decedent is found to have been partially responsible for their death.

According to a local news report, a woman was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident as she approached an intersection where a vehicle was stopped in a turn lane. The vehicle then moved into the path of the motorcycle, which resulted in the cyclist hitting the car. When officers arrived, they found the woman on the ground in the intersection. The victim was in life-threatening condition and later passed away at the hospital. Although this incident occurred in another state, similar accidents involving motorcycles claim lives every day in Maryland. In the wake of these tragedies, Maryland law allows families to file wrongful death lawsuits against responsible parties in the accident.

These cases allow for loved ones to seek relief for their harm, and Maryland law grants independent authority for spouses, parents, and children of the deceased to bring action against those accountable for the accident. Additionally, state law dictates that if the deceased did not have a surviving spouse, child, or parent, individuals related to the deceased through blood or marriage and those who were substantially dependent on the victim may also have grounds to sue.

Wrongful death lawsuits can provide the means for families to recover significant monetary damages. In Maryland, a variety of types of damages are recoverable. Following the loss of a loved one, finances can really add up – medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, and property damage can be overwhelming and burdensome for families who are still recovering emotionally. However, wrongful death claims could assist in alleviating the burden for you and loved ones, and potential damages for pain and suffering could pave way for continued healing and recovery of those mourning the deceased.

Motorcycle accidents are among the most likely to result in serious injury or death due to the lack of protection riders have while on a bike. While wearing a helmet can help to reduce the risk of injury, some accidents are so severe that even wearing a helmet won’t change the outcome. In fact, each year, approximately 69 people die as a result of Maryland motorcycle accidents.

Whenever someone gets onto a motorcycle, they are placing their lives in the hands of other motorists. While some motorcycle accidents can be avoided, many cannot, even when exercising the utmost care. Those who have lost a loved one in a Maryland motorcycle accident may be eligible for compensation for their loss through a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit.

A Maryland wrongful death lawsuit is a type of personal injury case that is intended to compensate the family members of an accident victim. In most cases, a wrongful death claim must be filed by a “primary beneficiary,” which are defined as spouses, children, and parents. If there are no primary beneficiaries available to file the claim, a secondary beneficiary can pursue a wrongful death case. Secondary beneficiaries are defined as “any person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the deceased.”

While it is awful anytime someone is involved and injured in a Maryland car crash, it is even more tragic when someone is killed as a result of a preventable accident. Unfortunately, however, those riding bicycles and motorcycles are generally more susceptible to serious injuries and death because they are less protected than those in cars and trucks which provide a buffer between other vehicles, roadside objects, and the road itself.

Recently, a 10-year-old bicyclist was tragically killed when she was struck by a car. According to a local news report covering the accident, the 5th grade girl was riding her bicycle to school when she fell off and was struck and killed by an oncoming SUV. The exact cause of the girl’s fall is still unknown, but authorities believe that the victim’s backpack may have caused her to lose her balance and fall.

The driver of the SUV that struck and killed the child is not expected to face any criminal charges. However, just because criminal charges are not filed does not mean that they will not end up in court. In situations like this, Maryland law allows the victim’s family to file a civil lawsuit against the driver. If it is found that the driver was negligent or somehow at fault for the accident—by texting while driving, speeding, or unreasonably failing to apply their brakes, for example—the family may be able to recover for their pain and suffering, as well as funeral and burial costs and any medical expenses.

A tragic multi-vehicle accident occurred in Chesapeake, Virginia last week, resulting in the unfortunate death of a motorcyclist. According to a local news report covering the accident, the responsible driver was in a red pickup truck when they ran a red light around 12:30 pm one afternoon, causing them to hit the motorcyclist and five other vehicles. The motorcyclist, a 56-year-old man, was sadly pronounced dead at the scene, and three other victims were sent to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.

While such accidents and fatalities are always tragic, they, unfortunately, happen far too often, and motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to their effects. Because motorcyclists do not have the protection that a car provides between them and other vehicles or the road, they are more likely to be severely injured by negligent or reckless drivers when they run red lights or engage in other dangerous behaviors.

In such incidents, it is always possible that local law enforcement will investigate and file criminal charges. In the tragic incident described above, law enforcement charged the at-fault driver with involuntary manslaughter and possession of cocaine. These charges, while they may help the public feel safer on the roads, do very little to compensate the victims and their families who may be suffering psychologically and financially.

In the tragic event of the death of a family member, a wrongful death claim may allow family members to recover compensation for the loss they suffered. Under Maryland’s Wrongful Death Act, a claim can be filed by certain family members against the parties at fault for the family member’s death. The Wrongful Death Act is intended to compensate family members of the decedent based on the losses suffered by the family members.

It is common for defendants in Maryland wrongful death claims to raise the fault of the victim as a defense. Maryland follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, which means that if a plaintiff is found to have been even the slightest bit negligent, the plaintiff is completely barred from recovery. Similarly, a person’s contributory negligence bars recovery of a subsequent wrongful death claim.

Another common issue is proving the elements of negligence in the absence of the victim’s testimony. Without the victim’s statement concerning what happened, families often have to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove the case. This often requires the assistance of experts and investigators. A plaintiff has the burden to prove all the elements of the claim by a preponderance of the evidence, including whether the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Mere speculation cannot sustain a negligence claim. A plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s conduct failed to meet the standard of care, that the defendant’s failure to meet the standard of care caused the plaintiff’s injuries, that the injuries were a foreseeable result of the defendant’s conduct, and that the plaintiff suffered injuries.

When someone causes a serious or fatal Maryland motorcycle accident, the accident may form the basis of a criminal charge against the at-fault driver. However, while judges in criminal cases can order restitution in some situations, the objective of a criminal case is not to compensate the victim for the damages they sustained. Instead, the criminal justice system is primarily concerned with punishing a defendant for violating the law.

A defendant in a criminal matter may also face a civil claim brought by those who were injured in the accident. These are often referred to as personal injury claims. Unlike a criminal case, the focus of a personal injury case is to compensate an accident victim for the damages they sustained as a result of the defendant’s conduct. Often, this includes damages amounts for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of companionship, as well as for any emotional pain and suffering caused by the accident.

When a negligent driver’s negligence or recklessness causes a fatal accident, the accident victim’s surviving loved ones can bring a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. These claims are very similar to negligence claims except that wrongful death cases allow different types of damages, and the process of filing the case is slightly different. The takeaway is that accident victims are not limited by the state’s decision to pursue a criminal conviction against an at-fault driver, and can pursue their own claim against the motorist in civil court.

While every accident is different, generally speaking Maryland motorcycle accidents often result in very serious injuries. In most cases, a motorist who causes a motorcycle accident will not have the financial means necessary to pay for the damages sustained in the crash. This is why it is so auto insurance is so important.

Maryland law requires that all motorists maintain a certain amount of insurance on their vehicle to compensate anyone who may be injured as a result of the driver’s negligence. In Maryland, there are three types of mandatory car insurance:

  • Liability: this coverage compensates those who have been injured as a result of the insured’s negligence
  • Property Damage: this coverage compensates accident victims for the damage to their property caused by the insured’s negligence; and
  • Un/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Protection: this coverage kicks in when another motorist’s liability insurance coverage is insufficient to fully compensate the insured for the injuries they sustained in an accident.

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Anytime someone gets in a vehicle – whether it be a car, truck or motorcycle – there is a risk of being involved in a Maryland auto accident. While any accident poses a risk of serious injury to those involved, motorcycle accidents result in a disproportionate amount of fatalities due to the lack of protection motorcycles offer riders.

According to the most recent government statistics, there are approximately 1,450 Maryland motorcycle accidents each year. In 2017, there were 85 people killed in Maryland motorcycle accidents. While this may not seem like a high number, consider the fact that there are only about 123,000 motorcycles registered in the State of Maryland compared to almost 2 million cars and trucks.

When someone is killed in a Maryland motorcycle accident, their surviving family members may be able to pursue a claim for financial compensation through a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. Under Maryland Code Section 3-904, a wrongful death claim is primarily for the benefit of a surviving spouse, child or parent. These are considered “primary beneficiaries.” If, however, there are no primary beneficiaries, a claim may be brought by “any person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the deceased.”

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Losing a loved one is always a very difficult and trying experience. However, when a loved one is killed in a preventable accident, such as a Maryland motorcycle accident, the feelings of frustration, anger, and loss are difficult to push aside.

In cases involving a negligent driver, the criminal justice system is often disinterested in pursuing a claim against the responsible driver. This is because criminal courts are typically concerned with intentional actions that result in injury, rather than a motorist’s negligence or poor decision-making. And even when a criminal charge is filed, the family of the deceased is typically just along for the ride, having no real role in the proceedings. In addition, even a successful criminal case against a negligent driver will do little to provide for the loss of financial support provided by the deceased. Overall, a criminal charge does little to comfort the family of the deceased other punishing the at-fault driver.

Under the Maryland wrongful death statute, the family members of a Maryland motorcycle accident victim can pursue a civil claim for damages against a negligent driver. Unlike a criminal case, the objective of a Maryland wrongful death case is less focused on the at-fault driver’s violation of the law and more concerned with the loss of life that resulted from the driver’s negligent actions. If successful, the surviving loved one may recover amounts for medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of financial support, as well as for emotional damages.

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