Car accidents are an unfortunately common occurrence. In most cases, they involve minor-to-serious injuries and property damages. However, some car accidents result in fatalities.
If a passenger was killed in a car accident, certain surviving relatives could pursue wrongful death damages. This type of compensation can cover funeral expenses and other damages.
What Are Wrongful Death Damages in a Car Accident?
Wrongful death damages compensate those who’ve lost a loved one in a car accident. In Maryland, they can provide reimbursement for:
- Loss of companionship
- Burial expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- Loss of parental figure
- Reduced familial earning capacity
It goes without saying that these damages cannot bring back a loved one killed in a car accident. However, wrongful death damages can reduce the financial strain of losing a loved one. Similarly, they can compensate family members for losing someone they deeply care for.
A Maryland car accident lawyer can assess these damages on your behalf. They can provide you with an estimate of what your case could be worth. This estimate could prove useful during settlement negotiations. If you know your case’s value, you could be less susceptible to unfair settlement offers.
How Much Are Wrongful Death Settlements?
Wrongful death settlements differ from case to case. This is because every car accident is unique. Some involve multiple injured parties, whereas others center on a single fatality. This variability means there’s no “average” value for a wrongful death settlement. These factors can impact how much the family of a victim receives:
- The amount of evidence available
- The outcome of insurance or legal negotiations
- Whether or not the family of a victim hired a lawyer
Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Action?
In Maryland, usually, only specific family members can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, including:
- A spouse
- A parent
- A child
If the case involves none of these parties, someone else might be able to file a wrongful death action. Under Maryland law, this other party could be “any person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the deceased.”
A car accident attorney can review your case and determine your eligibility. Wrongful death law can be complex, but a lawyer can act as your legal guide. They can assist you as you weigh your options.
For legal consultation, call (410)777-8960
What Other Damages Are Available to Car Accident Victims?
Some car accidents injure multiple parties. For example, imagine that a truck strikes the vehicle of a family driving to a soccer game. One member of the family passes away, whereas the others suffer injuries. In this case, the other family members could pursue personal injury damages and wrongful death damages.
In a car accident, personal injury damages may include:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damages
How do You Pursue Compensation After a Car Accident?
In Maryland, state law requires drivers law to carry liability insurance, as the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) explains. This type of insurance provides coverage to accident victims with the following required minimums:
- $30,000 for individual bodily injury
- $60,000 for bodily injury with accidents involving two or more victims
- $15,000 for property damages
To secure a liability insurance settlement, you must contact the insurer of the driver that caused your accident. During this process, their insurer may dispute your claim or try to offer you a low-value settlement. A car accident lawyer can negotiate with insurers on your behalf.
What If Liability Insurance Isn’t Enough?
In some cases, an insurance claim will not be enough. If this is the case, you could file a lawsuit against the party that caused your loved one’s death. However, just because you’ve filed a lawsuit doesn’t mean you need to go to trial. Maryland offers multiple types of alternative dispute resolutions (ADRs), including:
- Settlement conferences
- Community discussions
These approaches can be used to come to a settlement agreement with a liable party. Many lawsuits are settled this way to avoid trial. Mediation, a common ADR, entails meeting with a third-party mediator. This mediator cannot decide the outcome of your case. However, they can work with you and the liable party to come to an equitable agreement.
Car Accident Cases Are Time-Sensitive Matters
Car accident lawsuits are subject to Maryland’s statute of limitations, a legal deadline. This deadline applies to cases in the following ways:
- If you are filing on behalf of a lost loved one: You typically have three years to file a lawsuit, per Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code § 3-904.
- If you were injured in a car accident: You also typically have three years to file a lawsuit, per Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code § 5-101.
Keep in mind that these deadlines may shift depending on the context of your case. Generally, the sooner you get started on your case, the better.
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Contact Us Today for Legal Help From a Car Accident Lawyer
If you recently lost a loved one in a car accident, we extend our deepest condolences. The legal team at the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow is here for you. We will treat your case with care, compassion, and kindness. Our goal is to help you get your life back on track. We can offer you a free case evaluation. During this initial meeting, we can discuss your legal options. Contact our offices to get started today.