You love someone who has been killed in a fatal car accident in Maryland, and was the result of an awful mistake made by another driver. These are the five things you need to know:#1: The Biggest Issue Is Often Insurance
In the majority of fatality lawsuits, the biggest limitation is the insurance coverage. The cold reality is that there are fatal car accidents in Maryland where the victim's families only compensation for the loss is $30,000 (of even less if there was no insurance on either vehicle). Because $30,000 is our state's minimum.
This possibility stuns people. They read about all of these million dollar verdicts and they know they have this unbelievable pain and hurt - both emotional and economic hardship when the victim was also the breadwinner - and they absolutely know that their pain and loss equals anyone's. But if the defendant has no personal assets that can be viably attached - which is usually the situation - you are limited to the insurance coverage.
That's the bad news. The good news is that Maryland law really bends over backwards to try find insurance. We usually have a laundry list of options to find extra coverage, often in place that are wildly counter intuitive to someone not familiar with Maryland insurance law. (One of our lawyers is also an insurance law professor - we know where to look for coverage. We once found insurance coverage in a German auto insurance policy.) So the mere fact that the driver has little or no insurance is just the starting point in our search for finding a deep pocket to provide compensation for the loss.#2: The Wrongful Death Claims Is Really Two Claims
If you have lost a loved one in negligent killing, a suit against the defendant will have two different types of claims. The first is a wrongful death action. Essentially, you are bringing a claim as a member of the victim's family for the loss that you have suffered because the person who was killed is no longer in your life. The second is a survival action that is brought by the personal representative of the victim (i.e. the person in charge - usually a family member - of handling the victim's estate.). This claim allows for compensation to the victim's estate for the pain and suffering and other damages incurred by the victim that were suffered up to the moment of death.#3 Maryland Law Makes Fair Pain and Suffering Damages Impossible
There is no question that there are car and truck accident wrongful death cases where the settlements and verdicts will exceed $1 million. Our firm has gotten many such results for our clients. But Maryland law imposes a cap on pain and suffering damages in fatal wreck case. The law is complicated but we have put together a chart to give you some idea of what the maximum pain and suffering damages can be in Maryland.
So you read about these verdicts for millions of dollars in the papers. What they don't tell you is that many of these verdicts are not collectable unless the damages are economic damages. This mean that the surviving family suffered a financial loss as the result of the death. Our firm pushes economic damages to the limits to get every last penny, even claiming things like loss of household services. But the cap is real and does have an impact on how much money the survivors can actually put in their pocket.
One question surviving victims ask is how do insurance companies put a value on a life in a death case,... the grief, the pain, the heartache... thing that if you have never experienced it you really can't understand. The answer is they really don't -- they just pay as little as they have to pay. This is why so many of our fatal crash cases do not settle until just before trial: they want to keep every penny they can (and hold on to those pennies as long as they can).#4: There Are No Punitive Damages in Maryland Negligent Accident Cases
It is hard to imagine a situation more ripe for punitive damages then when a drunk driver comes across the center line and kills someone you love. Maryland has about 200 deaths a year that happen just like this. But you cannot get punitive damages in a car accident case absent an accident where there is the intent to harm, which rarely happens.#5: You Need a Lawyer in Almost Every Wrongful Death Case
Maryland law is complicated in wrongful death accident cases. You need a lawyer to sort though the claims that you have to in order to find whatever insurance coverage is out there that might be applicable to the case.
Our firm sometimes turns down wrongful death cases, not because the claims are not viable, but because the insurance policy is so small we really cannot do our job which is help the family maximize the value of their claim so they put more money in their pockets with us then if they never hired us. If we can't help you, we will tell you that. But you really need to get counsel to make sure you understand what your rights are and what options you may have.
Call us at 800-553-8082 or you can get a free case evaluation on-line.
More Information to Better Understand Maryland Fatal Car Accident Claims