Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim for an Infant or Elderly Person?
The loss of a loved one is never easy to process, but when their death was caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party, it can be absolutely devastating, knowing that your loved one’s death was entirely preventable. A wrongful death lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland understands that nothing can make up for your loss, but a wrongful death lawsuit is often the only avenue for families to get justice for the victim’s death. This can help families find some sense of closure, while also holding those at fault legally responsible for their actions.
Regardless of where the death occurred, Maryland law says that the at-fault party can be held legally responsible for the losses the victim’s death causes his or her survivors. A wrongful death lawsuit is filed with the civil court system so any liability for the victim’s death is addressed through financial compensation, unlike the criminal court system, which holds the person responsible by jail time and/or fines.
It is important for families to understand that there is a statute of limitations on how long a family has to file a lawsuit. A Baltimore wrongful death lawyer can explain what that time limit is in your particular case.
In order to be successful in a wrongful death lawsuit or claim, there are four elements that must be proven:
- Breach of duty: To prove that a person was at fault for the victim’s death, a Baltimore wrongful death lawyer must show that person had a duty of care toward the victim. For example, in the case of a car accident, drivers must obey the rules of the road. That is their duty every time they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. For example, if a driver engages goes faster than the posted speed limit, they are breaching their duty of care.
- Negligence: The evidence must also show that the at-fault party was negligent or reckless and that action caused the victim’s death. In the above example, speeding is considered negligent or even reckless behavior since it shows a disregard for traffic laws and safety.
- Causation: The family’s Baltimore wrongful death lawyer must then show that the act of negligence by the driver was a direct cause of the victim’s death. If the driver had not been speeding, he or she would have seen the victim’s vehicle stopped at a red light and would have been able to stop in time instead of slamming into the vehicle.
- Damages: The lawyer must show that the family has suffered losses as a result of the victim’s death. Damages can range from funeral and burial expenses, loss of the victim’s income, loss of the victim’s services, loss of the victim’s love and guidance, and pain and suffering.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim for an Infant or Elderly Person?
A wrongful death lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland has been asked this question many times: Is it possible to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the family of a child or elderly person? Our wrongful death lawyer serving Baltimore, MD shares that typically, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed to recover the future financial contributions of the deceased person, along with several other costs. Putting a monetary value on the life of a human is not easy; however, it is one that the juries and courts aim to do in these types of cases.
Trying to adapt the price-setting protocol in a wrongful death case to the death of an elderly person or a child is complicated. How do you determine the future monetary contributions of a retired person or a child? There are particular principles to help guide a wrongful death lawyer when trying to assess the unrecoverable financial value of death correctly.
Death of a Child
It is relatively simple to calculate the financial loss when an income-producing adult dies. However, there are other factors considered, such as the love, nurturing, possible childbearing services, and companionship considerations in an adult relationship. But when a young son or daughter dies, the damages the parents can recover are limited. Our Baltimore, MD wrongful death lawyer will tell you that amount is calculated by looking at:
- The earning potential of the child
- The child’s life expectancy, age at death, state of health at death, habits
- The child’s relationship to the person claiming the loss
- The age, health status, and circumstances of those asking for damages
Many of these conditions are purely speculation. If the child is very young at the time of death, it is even more challenging to assess the conditions correctly. On the other hand, if the child is in their late teens and excelling in school, it’s slightly easier to anticipate the potential earnings of that individual, had they survived into adulthood. Contacting our wrongful death lawyer in Baltimore, MD is essential to obtaining an accurate and clear picture of the value of your case.
Loss of an Unborn Child
The laws regarding wrongful death claims vary in different states when an unborn baby is killed. Several states require that for a wrongful death action to be an option; the baby has to be born alive. If the baby dies in utero, a wrongful death claim is not considered a viable option. In other states, however, the claim may be actionable as long as the unborn baby was viable at the time of the baby’s death. If you wish to discuss the laws in Baltimore, MD, concerning the wrongful death of an unborn baby, it is best to contact a wrongful death lawyer who is familiar with local laws.
Death of an Elderly Person
An elderly person’s death also has limited financial recovery potential. The court might award minimal awards for several reasons, including:
- The assumption that someone older than the age of retirement does not have significant earning potential.
- An elderly person’s children are usually old enough not to need financial support, significant guidance, or extensive nurturing from their parents.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the undervaluing of elderly persons in court when discussing a wrongful death action. Many people argue that the court is merely using a straightforward system in a very difficult situation.
Common Questions When Pursuing Wrongful Death
Our wrongful death lawyer Baltimore, MD, turns to know that without question, the worst type of accident is when a fatality is involved. No person should fall victim to a senseless accident that costs them their life, especially if it could have been prevented. Tragically losing someone that you love is not only shocking and tragic but earth-shattering. As a family member who has lost a loved one to the negligence of another, you may consider whether you can take legal action. At Greenberg Law Offices, we know that you will be facing many questions, especially when determining how best to move forward. We can help, call our Baltimore, Maryland wrongful death lawyer to schedule your consultation; we can help provide you with the answers you need.
What is a wrongful death claim?
When negligence has resulted in someone losing their life, it may be an option for the family of the victim to take action in the form of wrongful death. Typically the process is initiated by filing a wrongful death claim; this can be a less formal and faster way of obtaining a settlement offer than pursuing a lawsuit. Pursuing an accident claim allows your Baltimore, MD, wrongful death lawyer to negotiate your case. This can be an attractive option because not only is the process of settling faster, you have a higher likelihood of walking away with compensation for the accident. While a lawsuit may yield a more significant award, taking a case to trial can be time-consuming and risky in that you may walk away empty-handed.
What are the common types of wrongful death cases?
When an accident occurs, there are a variety of ways that events may roll out. The victim may pass away immediately following an accident or, some time may pass before they eventually succumb to their injuries. Here are several types of accidents that may call for the assistance of our Baltimore, MD wrongful death lawyer:
- Car Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Trucking Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Product Liability
- Premises Liability
- Work-Related Accidents
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
Be aware that not just any family member can take action in the name of their loved one. Often, the person who can take action in a wrongful death case is the estate executor in the name of beneficiaries such as spouses or immediate family members who were financially dependent upon the person who passed.
What types of damages are included in a wrongful death claim?
Damages are the losses that have resulted following the accident. Compensation in a wrongful death claim or a lawsuit is designed to help cover expenses and assist in making the family “whole” again. While nothing can bring back a person who has passed, your Baltimore, MD wrongful death lawyer will share that obtaining compensation can assist in covering the expenses that have resulted following your loved ones passing. Types of damages recovered in wrongful death claims include:
- Medical Expenses
- Loss of Earning Potential
- Loss of Inheritance
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Companionship
- Loss of Consortium
- Funeral Expenses
Considering whether you should take legal action after your loved one’s untimely death? Our Baltimore, MD, wrongful death lawyer is here to provide you with guidance and help you to take legal action. To learn more about how we can help you, contact Greenberg Law Offices, our Baltimore, MD, wrongful death lawyer can get you started.
When you are filing a wrongful death claim in Maryland, there are a few things you will need to know before you get started. We understand that this can be one of the hardest things a person will ever have to do. In addition to grieving for the loss of a loved one, they are also trying to set their feelings aside so that they can pursue legal compensation. Our team is here for you when you are going through this difficult time and we can walk you through the process of filing a wrongful death claim. We know this is one of the last things you want to do be doing, which is why you should do it with a trusted attorney by your side.
Determining Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim
When it comes to wrongful death claims, not just anyone can file one. In fact, Maryland, in particular, is very specific regarding who can legally file this type of claim. It is usually broken up into two categories:
- The primary beneficiaries. These people are typically the ones most people hear about filing wrongful death claims. They may be children, spouses, or parents.
- The secondary beneficiaries. These people may be the deceased’s siblings, cousins, or other extended family members. They are still allowed to file a wrongful death claim but can only do so if a primary beneficiary chooses not to bring a claim forward or if there are no surviving primary beneficiaries.
Why file a wrongful death claim?
Some people may believe that those who file a wrongful death claim are vindictive: they are just trying to get money out of a terrible situation and make the most of it. This is not the case, however. The people who are left behind after a loved one’s death are hurting an immeasurable amount. In addition to the heartache and memories they are left with, they may also be facing overwhelming medical bills related to their loved one’s passing as well as funeral and burial costs. They may get damages for both qualitative and quantitative reasons.
Is this the same as a survival action?
A wrongful death claim and a survival action are similar but not the same. While a wrongful death claim will seek compensation for the deceased’s family, a survival action seeks compensation for the person who passed away. If you want to learn more about either of these claims, speak with a member of our law firm now.
How Hard Is It to Prove Wrongful Death?
Proving a wrongful death case may not always be easy, but recovery on these claims is often possible with the guidance of the right legal counsel. Like with most negligence claims, there are four elements a plaintiff must establish to prevail in a wrongful death case. These elements include:
Duty of Care. The plaintiff must first prove the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person. Examples include the duty motorists owe to drive safely, or the duty a property owner has to protect their visitors from harm.
Breach of the Duty. It is not enough to establish that a duty existed. A plaintiff must also show that the defendant violated the duty they owed to the decedent. This could involve any careless, reckless, or wanton act that leads to the death of another person.
Causation. The defendant is only responsible for the damages that resulted from the untimely death they caused. This principle is known as causation. If the plaintiff cannot establish a link between their losses and the breached duty of care, they are not entitled to compensation.
Damages. Finally, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they have suffered real, measurable damages due to the wrongful death.
What Is a Deposition in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A deposition in a wrongful death lawsuit is an out-of-court proceeding that allows the parties to record testimony under oath for future use in court proceedings. These depositions occur outside of the presence of a judge, but the testimony given could be used at trial in some cases.
A deposition in a wrongful death case involves the attorneys for each side as well as the witness that is to be deposed. Also present is the court reporter who will take down what was said verbatim and later prepare a full transcript of the proceedings.
During the deposition, both sides will have the opportunity to ask questions of the witness. These depositions are generally used during the discovery phase to allow both sides to investigate the specific testimony of a witness prior to trial.
Depositions are also useful for obtaining testimony that could be used during a wrongful death trial. These proceedings allow the attorneys to obtain testimony from witnesses who might be otherwise unavailable at the time of the trial.
Although the judge is not present for the deposition, both attorneys have the right to object to the questions asked by the other side. While the attorneys generally work these objections out themselves, they can ask the judge to make a ruling about a contentious question that has led to an impasse.
What Happens After a Wrongful Death Deposition?
Depositions are a common part of wrongful death lawsuits. They are an important aspect of the discovery process as they allow attorneys to get a preview of a witnesses’ testimony prior to trial. What happens after a wrongful death deposition depends on the state of the case and how the deposition went for both sides.
Often, a wrongful death case could have dozens of depositions for the parties, witnesses, and medical experts. Early in the discovery process, you can generally expect discovery to continue for some time following a deposition. If the discovery phase is nearing an end, a final deposition could lead to the trial or settlement.
Contact Our Baltimore, MD Wrongful Death Lawyer Today!
If you’re dealing with this difficult situation, know that you don’t have to navigate the legal system alone. Contact the Greenberg Law Offices to set up a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland families can depend on when it matters most.