The death of a loved one is always devastating, especially when they died because someone else acted negligently. While everybody must die eventually, nobody deserves to lose their life to a reckless, careless or deliberately injurious person, business or government agency.
Not only is wrongful death unjust, it can cause terrible damage to the deceased’s family. If they were a spouse, parent to minors or both, their surviving loved ones could miss the income they earned to help support them. With those earnings suddenly gone, the family could struggle to afford their home and other necessities. Beyond that, the grief and trauma of losing a parent or spouse can be overwhelming and affect you for the rest of your life.
Of course, an untimely and preventable death is terrible for everybody who knew and loved the person: their parents, siblings, cousins, friends and coworkers. But Maryland personal injury law has strict rules about who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who gets to sue
Some states limit standing (the right to sue) to the deceased’s immediate family, such as a spouse, parent or child, or the executor of the deceased’s estate. In Maryland, these people are called “primary beneficiaries.” They get the first right to file a wrongful death claim. If none of them do, or the deceased was not survived by a primary beneficiary, extended family members like siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces, as “secondary beneficiaries,” may then step in to file suit.
Deciding when and how to file a wrongful death lawsuit can greatly help or hurt your claim. Your personal injury attorney can advise you on timing, who the named plaintiffs will be and other details.