Schlachman, Belsky, Weiner & Davey, P.A.

Baltimore Law Blog

For Maryland residents, there is no good time to experience a loss of a loved one. It can seem even more painful when a tragedy happens unexpectedly, such as in a fatal accident on the roadway. In these situations, surviving family members may wonder what options they have for relief as they continue to grieve.

What's more, individuals may be unclear what relief is available in a wrongful death action. The answer often turns on the circumstances involving the deceased person, including their age, health, and earning capacity. While these factors may be apparent in a typical case involving a middle-aged adult, it can become more complicated when children are involved.

For instance, news recently broke that one Maryland resident was among those involved in a fatal bus accident on a collegiate trip. The bus was carrying members of a college lacrosse team when it went off the road and struck a tree. The Maryland resident was the coach of the team, and died in the crash, along with her unborn child. The driver also died, and several others were injured.

In cases like the above, it is difficult to speak of placing a value on someone's life. In cases involving an unborn child, the law is unclear as to whether surviving family members may maintain a cause of action for wrongful death. In some states, a child must be born alive before it can be the subject of a wrongful death action. In other words, an unborn child's death would not give rise to a claim, and even the parents would not be able to bring an action for emotional injury in some circumstances.

In other states, the laws may be different, and may permit some type of action to be brought based on the death of the unborn child. Accordingly, in these tragic instances, it is essential to work with a qualified attorney who can advise individuals on a particular state's laws and how to best proceed

Source: NBC Washington, "Pregnant coach killed in bus crash was a Baltimore native," Danielle Johnson and David Chang, Mar. 16, 2013

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