Who Can Be Held Liable in a Wrongful Death Claim in Maryland?

A wrongful death claim in Maryland allows certain family members of the deceased to sue a negligent party or parties when their negligence or wrongful actions resulted in the death of their loved one. Successful wrongful death lawsuits provide financial compensation to help the family deal with expenses and losses from their loved one’s death. Here we’ll look at who can be held liable.

Defining Wrongful Death

Under Maryland law, a wrongful death claim exists when a party’s negligent, reckless, or criminal actions result in someone’s death. The death must occur as a direct result of injuries sustained due to the defendant’s negligence. If the injured party lives for some time after the incident before dying from something unrelated to their injuries, a wrongful death claim cannot proceed.

Who Can Be Named as a Defendant?

There are several parties who may share liability in a Maryland wrongful death case. Potential defendants include:


If an individual’s intentional act or negligence results in someone’s death, they can be named personally in a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, if a drunk driver causes a fatal car accident, they would likely be a defendant. Employers can also be included when their employee causes a death while working.


Companies are vicariously liable for deaths caused by employees during business activities. Additionally, injuries stemming from unsafe property conditions, defective products, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, etc. may lead family members to include related businesses as defendants.

Government Agencies

If a government employee’s negligent actions while carrying out job duties results in death, the victim’s family can name the government agency as a defendant. This includes law enforcement departments, public transportation authorities, public road maintenance crews, and other agencies.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Maryland?

Maryland’s wrongful death statute only allows certain family members, known as primary beneficiaries, to be plaintiffs in a wrongful death case. The following primary beneficiaries can file a claim:

  • Spouse of the deceased
  • Parent of the deceased
  • Child of the deceased
  • Legal guardian of the deceased (if the deceased was a minor child)

If none of these primary beneficiaries exist, secondary beneficiaries can step forward to file a claim:

  • Grandparent of the deceased
  • Grandchild of the deceased

Damages Available

Compensation available in successful Maryland wrongful death claims aims to cover the losses surviving family members now face. Some damages family members can pursue include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Financial support the deceased would have contributed
  • Loss of household services the deceased would have provided
  • Loss of companionship, guidance, and nurturing

Punitive damages may also be rewarded in situations when the liable party’s behavior was grossly negligent or criminal. Money awarded serves to punish defendants for their misconduct.

Wrongful death claims must be filed by surviving family members within 3 years from the date of their loved one’s death in most cases. An experienced Maryland wrongful death attorney can provide guidance to ensure families file claims properly against all negligent parties accountable for their loved one’s death. With adequate compensation, families can move forward while honoring their deceased relative.

Moving On from the Trauma of a Wrongful Death in the Family

The grieving process after losing a loved one can be complex and challenging. When the death occurs due to another party’s negligence or misconduct, the additional trauma can make the healing journey even more difficult. Families must process not only the agony of loss, but also feelings of injustice, anger, and frustration toward those responsible.

As time passes, the acute pain tends to transition into more of a chronic emptiness for family members. Support groups can help validate the range of emotions experienced. Many find comfort in embracing spiritual perspectives or finding meaning by memorializing their loved one through activism or charitable foundations. Prioritizing self-care routines, as well as accepting help from extended family and friends, helps grieving families manage their stress.

While the trauma of a wrongful death never completely dissipates, many do find the burdens become lighter. The legal remedy of a wrongful death lawsuit cannot undo the tragedy that occurred. However, holding negligent parties accountable and receiving rightful compensation can empower families as they commit to rebuild and honor their deceased loved one through their continued living.

Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597 if a loved one has been killed in an accident that wasn’t their fault. Monge & Associates has offices in 32 locations across 19 states, including Maryland, Ohio, and Illinois.