When calculating wrongful death damages and settlements, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Unfortunately, there is no wrongful death settlement calculator. The simple reason for this is that wrongful death settlements are calculated based on the facts and circumstances of each case, making generalizations nearly impossible.
What Are Wrongful Death Settlements?
A wrongful death settlement can resolve a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. You might be thinking, So what is a wrongful death claim? A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury action and will proceed almost the same way.
However, unlike a personal injury action in which you, the injured victim, pursue a claim against the responsible defendants for your injury, a wrongful death claim is initiated by the victim’s surviving family members. Not everyone can file a wrongful death claim. They can typically only be undertaken by the closest familial survivors, such as a spouse, children, or executor of the deceased’s estate.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action filed by the surviving family to compensate them for the loss of their loved one.
Maryland Wrongful Death Claims
Every state addresses wrongful death claims and who can file one differently. In Maryland, generally, the deceased person’s spouse, parents, or children are permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If none of those classified individuals survives the victim, any person related to them by blood or marriage and who was substantially dependent on the deceased may initiate the wrongful death claim.
In Maryland, a wrongful death action must be filed within three years of the person’s death.
Examples of accidents and situations that often give rise to wrongful death claims include:
- Car accidents,
- Semi-truck accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Defective products, and
- Premise liability claims.
If someone you love recently died as a result of such an accident, it is best to consult the legal guidance of a wrongful death lawyer immediately.
Wrongful Death Damages
While there is no wrongful death calculator, understanding what damages may apply in your case can be helpful. There are generally two categories of Maryland wrongful death damages: economic and noneconomic.
Economic damages cover direct financial losses related to the victim’s injury and death.
Most commonly, as the surviving family member, you will seek compensation for medical treatment related to the accident, including medical services, therapy, and other care.
Loss of Financial Support
When you lose a loved one that you relied on for financial support, you can seek compensation for the lost anticipated or future earnings of that person. For instance, if you relied on your spouse for financial support, including paying your mortgage and other bills, you will seek compensation for the lost financial contribution you will no longer receive.
When determining the estimated amount of money the victim would have provided for their family, the jury, judge, or parties negotiating the settlement will consider the following:
- The age of the victim at the time of their death,
- Any pre-existing health conditions before the accident,
- Earning capacity, and
- The needs of their children and spouse.
Calculating this anticipated lost compensation for a wrongful death case is complex and can be heavily contested, but an experienced lawyer is seasoned at making these estimates and calculations.
Noneconomic damages are typically more challenging to calculate than more direct economic damages because they are personal and subjective to the individual seeking them. In other words, what may affect you severely may not make such a negative impact on someone else in a similar situation.
Examples of non-economic damages in wrongful death claims include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Emotional distress; and
- Loss of consortium.
Other Damages to Consider in a Wrongful Death Settlement
Losing someone as the result of an accident sadly comes with other financial consequences. A wrongful death claim may also seek damages for:
- End-of-life expenses;
- Funeral costs;
- Lost value of childcare (e.g., cost of hiring childcare such as a nanny or daycare when your children were previously cared for by your deceased spouse);
- Lost value of household services and chores (i.e., cost of hiring outside help for household tasks such as lawn maintenance and household upkeep); and
- Lost anticipated inheritance.
The despair of losing a loved one can be debilitating. It is essential to have a skilled and seasoned attorney to guide you through this complicated process. Having an experienced lawyer will help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve
Limitations on Damages
In Maryland, there is no cap on economic or punitive damages. However, there are caps on noneconomic and pain and suffering damages in wrongful death lawsuits. The exact cap will depend on the claim and the number of surviving beneficiaries.
As the plaintiff, it is your burden to prove your damages. At BMBF, we can help you determine what damages you can seek and what applicable caps you can expect.
Wrongful Death Damages Consideration
While there is no settlement calculator or equation to determine wrongful death damages, we do know that several factors are commonly considered when addressing how to calculate wrongful death damages.
- The type of accident, negligence, or misconduct;
- The financial loss experienced by the decedent’s family;
- The age and dependence of the victim’s family (i.e., are the victim’s children young and financially dependent?”);
- Applicable law; and
- Insurance policy limits include maximum caps on the amount they will pay toward a claim and internal formulas for estimating settlements.
Upon meeting with one of our attorneys, we can help you determine the settlement amount you can expect.
Maryland Wrongful Death Lawyers
Losing a loved one is never easy, and you shouldn’t have to deal with the financial repercussions caused by someone else’s negligence or misconduct. At BMBF, our team was named to the Best Lawyers list of 2024 for our exceptional and compassionate representation. Our experienced attorneys and staff can walk you through the wrongful death claim process to help put your mind at ease. Let us help you seek the justice you and your family deserve. Contact us today to schedule a one-on-one consultation.