The sudden, unexpected passing of a loved one in a deadly car or truck accident is a devastating event. For immediate family members, the loss may have long-term financial implications as well. At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Prince George’s County auto accident lawyers understand how incredibly difficult it can be to work through the legal issues involved in tragic and fatal accidents. We can provide compassionate advice as well as representation should you choose to bring a wrongful death action against those responsible for your losses.Legal Recourse for Fatal Accidents
Every year, thousands of people in the United States suffer serious, life-long injuries and even death in motor vehicle accidents caused by careless drivers. Typically, an injured person may file a personal injury claim against a negligent driver to recover payment for medical treatment and auto repairs, among other damages. When a person is killed in a fatal accident, however, the suit may be brought by the surviving family members, and/or the estate of the deceased person.
The Maryland wrongful death statute allows certain primary beneficiaries (family members) or in the event there are no primary beneficiaries, secondary beneficiaries to recover damages for their own losses arising from the death of a relative. A wrongful death action must be brought for the benefit of the spouse, parent, or child of the person killed in an accident, with some exceptions. If the deceased person did not leave behind any surviving spouse, child, or parent, or if none of them are eligible to bring the suit, then any relative by blood or marriage who depended on the deceased person for financial support may bring a wrongful death claim. Damages include mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, care, attention, advice, counsel, training, education or guidance. A wrongful death action must be filed within three years of the victim’s death, or it may be dismissed. Maryland Rule 15-1001 provides that persons entitled by law to damages by reason of wrongful death shall be deemed as plaintiffs whether or not they join in the action. They are named “to the use of” plaintiffs. Damages, absent an agreement by all proper parties, will be awarded by a Judge or jury in proportion of the loss.
A survival action may be filed by the representative of the estate of the person killed in a fatal car wreck. A survival action is a distinct and separate claim to recover damages that the deceased person would have received had they not died. Any proceeds awarded to the estate are then distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs of the decedent according to their will or by intestate succession. See section 3-104 Estates and Trusts Article. Damages include last medical bills incurred, loss of earnings up to the time of death, allowable funeral expenses and conscious pain and suffering of the deceased prior to death. A survival action, like a wrongful death action, is also subject to a three year statute of limitations. There are statutory caps in the amounts that can be awarded. This can be confusing for an attorney not familiar with the provision, which can be found in Courts & Judicial Proceedings, Section 11-108.
To succeed in a wrongful death or survival action arising out of a deadly accident, the plaintiffs must prove that the defendant’s careless driving or negligence was the proximate cause of the decedent’s death. The plaintiffs must also establish the damages they are seeking. It is important to note that under Maryland law, if the decedent was at all at fault for the accident, no damages may be recovered.Damages for Fatal Accidents
Maryland law allows for the recovery of economic damages, as well as capped non-economic damages. In a survival action, the estate may seek recovery for memorial and burial services, hospital bills, property damage, conscious pain and suffering of the deceased, and other compensation. Wrongful death beneficiaries may be awarded compensation for lost financial support, mental anguish, and loss of companionship, comfort, marital or parental care, among other damages. While money can never replace the life of a loved one, it may provide the financial security that may otherwise have been lost. A wrongful death attorney can help you seek appropriate damages in a fatal accident case.Contact a Fatal Accident Lawyer in Prince George’s County
At Foran & Foran, P.A., we work with grieving families to recover the compensation they need after the death of a spouse, parent, or child. If you have lost a family member in a fatal auto or motorcycle accident, we encourage you to reach out. Our attorneys handle personal injury and premises liability claims throughout Prince George's County, including Bowie, Beltsville, Chillum, Greenbelt, Hyattsville, Clinton, Lanham, and Laurel. Call our office at (301) 441-2022 or contact us online and request a free consultation with an experienced Prince George's County accident attorney.