Liability In Maryland Wrongful Death Cases
Accidents are one of the most common causes of injuries and disability in the U.S., but extremely serious incidents can also be deadly. Unintentional injuries are the fourth leading cause of death in America according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with almost 214,000 fatalities every year. While there are countless reasons and contributing factors behind accidents, they share a common element: These mishaps are preventable and only occur because someone engaged in misconduct.
When an accident causes a fatality, survivors have rights under Maryland wrongful death laws. You must be an eligible family member to take legal action, but it is also necessary to prove certain facts regarding the deadly incident. Details vary based upon the circumstances, and an Owings Mills wrongful death attorney can explain. The key is the theory of liability that applies to the case, so a summary helps.
Motor Vehicle Crashes: Traffic accidents claim many lives, and the reason they happen is carelessness. In legal terms, the theory of liability is negligence. You must prove that the at-fault motorist failed to drive safely, directly causing the collision. Negligence principles apply to car, truck, and motorcycle collisions, as well as incidents involving pedestrians and bicycle riders.
Other Fatal Accidents: A wrongful death claim may also be based upon negligence if the fatality was the result of carelessness in other contexts. Slip and falls on someone’s property are a specific type of negligence case, termed premises liability. To recover compensation, you must prove the property owner failed to keep the space safe. Some workplace accidents can also be deadly, and survivors may have rights under multiple laws.
Medical Malpractice: Negligence is also the basis for wrongful death claims caused by medical malpractice, but there is a very specific standard that applies. Liability depends upon whether the health care provider deviated from standards that are accepted in the medical field. Misdiagnosis, birth injuries, and surgical errors are examples of medical malpractice claims as a basis for wrongful death.
Defective Products: A very different theory of liability applies if a fatality was caused by a dangerous, defective product. Under strict liability, you do not need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in putting a flawed item on store shelves. Some of the most common defective products that can lead to fatal injuries include:
- Vehicle airbags, tires, and automated safety features;
- Household appliances and electronics;
- Mowing and landscaping equipment;
- Dangerous drugs and medical devices; and,
- Children’s toys, clothing, and equipment.
Criminal Activity: It is also possible to pursue a wrongful death case based on assault, aggravated assault, shootings, and sex crimes. The assailant would be liable for an intentional tort or wrongdoing, enabling survivors to seek damages.
A Baltimore County Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Explain More About Liability
If you lost someone close to you because of any of the incidents described above, please contact Furman | Honick Law to discuss your legal remedies. You can set up a free consultation at our offices in Owings Mills or Baltimore by calling 410-844-6000 or visiting our website.