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Who Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

All states have various laws in place that give people the right to recover compensation after the wrongful death of a loved one. However, the specific people that are allowed to file these suits can very depending on the rules in a particular state. 

Most states have wrongful death statutes that have a strong resemblance to “Lord Campbell’s Act,” a law adopted by British Parliament in 1846. Maryland is one of those states with Lord Campbell laws for wrongful death. Under these types of laws, only a specific beneficiary specified in the statute may file a wrongful death claim. The beneficiary is typically designated based on the closeness of his or her relationship to the deceased victim. 

Only that designated person has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Beneficiaries could be either an individual person or a class of people, such as “immediate family” or “children.” If there are no living members of the designated class of people, there can be no wrongful death suit. 

Common examples of designated beneficiaries under Lord Campbell wrongful death laws include: 

  • Immediate family members (spouses, children, parents of unmarried children, adopted children)
  • Extended family members (siblings, grandparents, grandchildren)
  • Parents of a deceased fetus (when those parents file a wrongful death claim after a stillbirth, for example)
  • Domestic/life partners
  • Financial dependents or anyone who suffers financially due to the death of the victim 

If you have questions about whether you qualify as a designated beneficiary or if you have a legitimate chance at recovering in your wrongful death claim, speak with the southern Maryland wrongful death attorneys at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A. for additional information.

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