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Who can bring a wrongful death claim after a loved one dies?

After a tragic incident occurs in a person's life, Baltimore residents can be left searching for answers. A simple car accident, for example, can fundamentally alter a person's life when serious injury or death results from the crash.

Last week, this blog discussed what may happen in the potential situation where a person is injured by a negligent driver, but that other driver died as a result of the accident. In those cases, the injured person may still have a valid cause of action he or she can bring against the deceased person's estate, in order to receive compensation for the other driver's negligence.

In other cases, however, the injured person may also die as a result of injuries suffered in the car accident. Accordingly, there can be questions about what rights surviving family members may have when their loved one has been killed through the negligence of another individual.

In these situations, once again, the legal cause of action may still be brought even though one of the parties involved is no longer alive. Surviving family members may bring a claim for wrongful death, which can hold the negligent person accountable for causing the death of the loved one.

Only certain individuals can bring the claim under the statute, however, when a loved one dies. The statute provides that a surviving spouse, child, parent or other relative can bring the wrongful death action in the appropriate circumstances. When damages are awarded through the action, the compensation is then given to these individuals in proportion to their injuries resulting from the loss of their loved one. Accordingly, surviving family members can not only hold the negligent person responsible for his or her actions, they can obtain financial relief that may be much needed after their surviving loved one's death.

Source: General Assembly of Maryland, "Courts and Judicial Proceedings," accessed on May 1, 2015

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