The tragedy of losing a loved one in a Maryland motorcycle accident is an experience that no one should ever have to go through. However, on average, there are approximately 70 fatal Maryland motorcycle accidents each year. While some of these accidents are attributable to rider error, many involve negligent motorists who failed to take account of their surroundings.
Under Maryland law, when a person is killed due to another’s negligence, the surviving loved ones of the accident victim can pursue a Maryland wrongful death claim against all responsible parties. It is important the families of accident victims understand that Maryland law requires that a proper party file a wrongful death claim. Under Maryland Code § 3-904, a “primary beneficiary” must be the one to bring the claim. Primary beneficiaries are defined as the “wife, husband, parent, or child of the deceased.” If no primary beneficiary exists, “any person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the deceased” can bring the claim. These are referred to as secondary beneficiaries.
Once a party establishes that they are a proper party, they must be able to prove that the defendant’s actions were the cause of their loved one’s death. In this sense, a wrongful death case is similar to a traditional Maryland personal injury case, requiring a plaintiff to establish the four elements of a negligence claim: duty, breach, causation, and damages.