How long does it take to settle a wrongful death claim in Maryland?
The short answer is, it depends. Unlike most law governing personal injury cases, Maryland wrongful death law is dictated by a statute, a written law drafted and modified by the Maryland state legislature. To learn more about how long it takes to settle a wrongful death claim in Maryland please continue reading our blog post!
Just what we mean when we say “wrongful death claim”
So, we are on the same page: A wrongful death claim is any legal claim for compensation owing to the immediate members of the family of a person who died because of the negligence of another. To file a wrongful death claim means to bring a lawsuit against persons who may have acted negligently and the negligent acts caused the death of a person. A wrongful death claim is separate and distinct from any criminal charges for manslaughter or homicide or negligent death. A wrongful death claim is a claim for monetary compensation.
Against whom can you bring a wrongful death claim?
Generally, the immediate members of a family can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against any person whose negligence caused their parent’s, child’s, or spouse’s wrongful death. Typically, though, the wrongful death claim may be brought against a driver or operator of a vehicle, against an employer who failed to observe employee safety standards, or a doctor or other medical professional who failed to observe and follow accepted medical procedures and standards. It may even be brought against a manufacturer or a product or a company that provides a service if the product or service caused the death of a person. Usually, however, the insurance company is brought as a defendant in a wrongful death claim. This is true for when a professional or a company is covered by a malpractice insurance policy.
Until when can you file a wrongful death claim?
To be safe, it is best to file a wrongful death claim as soon as possible after claimant learns of the death of their immediate family member. This is because most wrongful death claims can only be brought to court within 3 years after the wrongful death. After three years, any claim for wrongful death will be thrown out by the courts in Maryland because the claim violates the statute of limitations. This is the general rule.
The only exception to this three-year rule is when the wrongful death claim is brought against the employer of the deceased. If the immediate family members of an employee want to bring a wrongful death suit against their loved one’s employer, they may do so within 10 years after the person has died or within 3 years after they learned of their loved one’s death, whichever period is longer.
What does it mean when a wrongful death claim is settled?
So, let’s assume that the wrongful death claim is brought within the three-year period allowed by Sec. 3-904 of the Maryland Code. Let us also say that the person who brought the suit also included the insurance company in the lawsuit. Now, lawsuits are complex and time-consuming. The longer a lawsuit drags on, the bigger the legal costs to the parties suing and being sued. Also, if a wrongful death claim proceeds to trial and there is a judgment, aside from paying the judgment award, the person sued will also experience other related financial costs—their next insurance policy will have higher premiums if they are convicted or if they are found liable. There is an interest in settling a wrongful death claim—this means that the persons being sued may be inclined to settle your claim.
How long before a wrongful death claim is settled?
It depends. It depends on the strength of the evidence supporting your claim. Wrongful death claims arising from medical malpractice probably takes the longest time to settle because it takes a while before you can even compile all the medical records necessary to prove your claim.
Usually, you will need to participate in depositions, in discoveries, and in requests to produce and inspect documents. The party you are suing will usually need to see how much evidence is stacked up against them before they will think of settling. Also, there can be negotiations over the settlement sum. There is also the matter of how much each of the claimants are entitled to—a spouse, a minor child, and a child of majority age will not all be entitled to the same amount. So, within the family of the claimants, there may be some negotiations, as well. So, do not expect to see any settlement money until after 1-5 years after bringing suit.
Do you think you are entitled to bring a wrongful death claim? Are you thinking of bringing a wrongful death claim and do not know when to start? Have you bro
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