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Car Accident Damages: Wrongful Death

When a car accident in Waldorf, MD results in the tragic loss of life, survivors may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim. It aims to provide financial compensation to survivors for their loss. Wrongful death damages are a specific subset of car accident damages, and understanding them is crucial for families seeking justice for their lost loved ones.

What Are Wrongful Death Damages?

Wrongful death damages can be categorized into economic and non-economic damages.

1. Economic Damages

Economic damages are financial in nature and relatively straightforward to quantify. For instance:

  • Medical Expenses: These include any costs associated with medical care the deceased might have received before succumbing to injuries. This could range from emergency room visits to surgical procedures.
  • Loss of Income and Future Earnings: This is a significant factor, particularly when the deceased was a primary breadwinner. The calculations for lost earnings may extend into the future, taking into account the individual’s likely career trajectory, age, and potential for promotions.
  • Funeral and Burial Expenses: These are immediate costs that families often have to bear, ranging from service fees to the costs of a cemetery plot.

The damages awarded for wrongful death in Maryland are not limited or restricted by the “pecuniary loss” or “pecuniary benefit” rule.

2. Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are subjective and can be harder to quantify, but they are just as crucial:

  • Emotional Pain and Suffering: This accounts for the psychological impact the death has on the family. While no monetary amount can replace the emotional loss, it recognizes the suffering endured.
  • Loss of Companionship and Emotional Support: Losing a loved one means losing their daily support, companionship, and guidance. This is often factored into damages, especially for spouses and children.
  • Loss of Consortium: This is a specific type of damage often reserved for the loss experienced by a spouse. It encompasses the loss of intimacy, affection, and the overall companionship that comes with marital relations.

Wrongful death damages are multifaceted, requiring an intricate balance between objective financial calculations and more subjective, emotional factors.

Who Can File for Wrongful Death Claims?

In Maryland, the eligibility to file a wrongful death lawsuit is defined hierarchically. Initially, the law grants the right to file such a claim to the spouse, parents, and children of the deceased. These individuals are considered the closest relatives and, consequently, the most directly affected by the loss.

If none of these close relatives either exist or opt to initiate the lawsuit, the opportunity to file a claim extends to other relatives who were related to the deceased by blood or marriage and were substantially dependent on the deceased. This could include more distant family members such as siblings, nieces, nephews, or even aunts and uncles.

Cap on Wrongful Death Damages in Maryland

One of the most distinctive aspects of Maryland’s wrongful death law is the cap imposed on non-economic damages. Unlike economic damages, these damages can be more challenging to quantify, thus, Maryland law places a limit on how much can be awarded.

As of October 2022, the cap for non-economic damages in wrongful death is set at $920,000. If a case involves more than one beneficiary, that cap rises to $1,380,000. Additionally, the law provides for a combined limit for both wrongful death and survival action cases, set at $2,300,000. Survival actions are closely related to wrongful death claims but represent the pain and suffering the deceased might have endured from the time of the accident to the time of death.

Maryland updates these caps annually which makes it imperative to consult with Waldorf personal injury lawyers to ascertain which cap would apply to your specific case. Since wrongful death laws can be complicated, and the limitations on damages are subject to change, legal guidance can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of the system.

Talk to Our Waldorf Personal Injury Lawyer Through Consultation

Whether you are a primary or secondary beneficiary, the Law Office of Robert Castro can guide you through the complexities of filing for wrongful death damages after a car accident. With our team of Waldorf car accident lawyers, we are committed to securing the best possible outcome for surviving family members. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.