In the tragic event of the loss of a loved one in a Maryland motorcycle accident, family members may be able to recover financial compensation by filing a wrongful death claim against those at fault for the crash. A wrongful death claim allows certain qualifying family members to file a claim to recover compensation based on the losses stemming from the victim’s death. However, the victim’s role in contributing to the accident may limit family members’ ability to recover compensation through a wrongful death claim.
In a Maryland wrongful death case, if the victim is found to be at least partially at fault for causing their own death, the victim’s family cannot recover in a wrongful death claim. Maryland courts follow the doctrine of contributory negligence, which means that a plaintiff cannot recover if the plaintiff (or the decedent in a wrongful death claim) is found to be even partially at fault. For example, in a recent crash described below a motorcyclist died in a fatal motorcycle crash. In a case such as that one, a defendant might argue that the motorcyclist’s actions contributed to their death.
While most other states will still allow plaintiffs to recover at least some compensation if the plaintiff (or decedent) is found to be partially at fault, Maryland has not yet changed its law on contributing negligence despite calls for reform. However, a defendant will have the burden to prove that the victim was at fault because of the victim’s specific actions or failure to act. The defendant must provide some evidence of the plaintiff’s (or decedent’s) negligence. The standard for proving causation, like other elements of a negligence claim, is whether it is more likely than not to be the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.