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Wrongful Death Attorneys Serving Millersville, Maryland

A wrongful death claim is a suit that arises from the death of an individual that was caused by the conduct of another. A wrongful death suit is different from other types of personal injury claims because the actual victim (the “decedent”) is not bringing suit, rather it is the family members or the decedent’s estate. As such, a wrongful death claim is brought to recover damages for the injuries that the surviving family and/or estate have suffered due to the death of the victim. The damages recovered do not include damages that are personal to the decedent, since the decedent is not allowed to recover for pain and suffering, mental distress, or any other form of compensatory damages unique to him or her. The purpose of a wrongful death suit is to provide relief to family members who have been injured emotionally and financially as a result of the family member’s death. To file a wrongful death suit in Maryland, you must show that:

  • The death of a person was caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default (Md. Cts and Jud. Pro. Code Ann. § 3-902);

  • The act, neglect, or default would have entitled the injured person to file an action to recover damages had the death not ensued (Benjamin v. Union Carbide Corp., 162 Md.App. 173, 188, 873 A.2d 463, 472 (2005)); and

  • The relation you share with the deceased party qualifies you to make a wrongful death claim (Md. Cts and Jud. Pro. Code Ann. § 3-904).

Maryland law makes a distinction between persons who can file a wrongful death suit and persons who are beneficiaries. Only certain individuals can file wrongful death claims, and only certain individuals are permitted to bring wrongful death claims on behalf of others.  In Maryland, a surviving spouse, child, parent, or guardian of the deceased person may file a suit on behalf of the surviving spouse, children, or parents.  The only time next of kin, administrator, or personal representative of the deceased may bring suit is if there are no surviving spouses, parents, or children of the deceased. Siblings and cousins of the decedent do not have the right to bring the lawsuit unless they have been named as guardian or personal representative of the decedent, in which case they still have no right of recovery so long as there is a surviving spouse, child, or parent of the decedent. Md. Cts and Jud. Pro. Code Ann. § 3-904.

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Death In the Workplace

If death occurs while the decedent was on the job, the right to sue may change. Under Maryland’s Worker’s Compensation Act, an employee who elects to take worker’s compensation does not have a right to sue his or her employer for injuries in the workplace. If the decedent accepts worker’s compensation and gives up the right to sue, beneficiaries or surviving relatives also cannot sue for wrongful death, unless the act resulting in the death was due to a deliberate intent by the employer to injure or kill the employee. Md. LE § 9-509.

If a person’s death on the job was due to the negligent actions of a third party, however, Maryland’s worker’s compensation statute allows dependents to pursue a wrongful death suit against the third party, regardless of whether the decedent elected for worker’s compensation through his or her employer. Md. LE § 9-901.

For more information on Death In the Workplace, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking and talk to Arnold F. Phillips by calling today. We serve the areas of Millersville, Cumberland, McHenry, Garrett County, and Allegany County, Maryland.