While it may seem that any person who causes an accident that results in a fatality should be liable for wrongful death, Maryland laws require specific circumstances to make those claims.
If family members want to pursue wrongful death cases, they must prove these four things.
Duty of care
The accused must be legally responsible for the safety of others, also known as a duty of care. For example, a driver must follow laws to ensure the safety of others, and doctors must act reasonably.
Breach of duty
Those held to the duty of care standards might be guilty of wrongful death if they violated that duty. For doctors, this might be performing surgery under the influence of narcotics and causing the death of patients. Distracted drivers are another example; they are too busy watching text messages and inadvertently cross the center line into oncoming traffic, causing a collision.
If offenders violated their duty of care, accusers must prove that those negligent actions caused the death of their family member. There must be enough evidence to prove that no other contributing factors were the primary cause of the victim’s death.
When family members file wrongful death lawsuits, there must also be actual damages to recoup from the offender. Items such as lost property, medical bills or funeral expenses impact the family economically. While actual damages must exist to file wrongful death cases, families can also ask for non-economic damages, such as emotional distress and pain and suffering.
Using these parameters, family members may be able to determine if they should file a wrongful death lawsuit after losing a loved one.