By Scott Bowling
Fran was 67 years old and had just retired from a long career with a bank. In fact, Fran decided to sell her house and move to daughter, Paula’s home where she could also be near her two grandchildren. One afternoon, Fran decided to go to the grocery store for Paula. She was traveling on Route 301 towards LaPlata when a driver lost control of his car, crossed the median and struck Fran’s car head on. The collision was terrible and Fran was taken to a local hospital. Despite many life saving attempts, Fran died of her injuries. As anyone could sympathize, the loss to Paula was heat breaking.
A police investigation revealed that the other driver was operating his cell phone at the time of the incident and had just sent a text to someone seconds before he lost control of his vehicle. Clearly, the other driver was negligent and careless which directly caused Fran to die and Paula to lose her mother.
What are Paula’s rights and claims against the other driver? Paula is 33 years old and was dependent on her mother for any income or support, so would Paula still be able to make a claim against the other driver for the grieve and loss of companionship connected to the death of her mother? The answers to both questions is YES.
Maryland law recognizes the right of an adult child to bring a lawsuit against a negligent person for the death of parent. Not all states allow this type of suit, but Maryland stands firm in its belief that adult children have claims for the loss of their parent. In the same turn, parents have the right to sue for the loss of an adult child as well.
These cases can be difficult since the level of emotion and anger is so high. Insurance companies simply look at the case as a matter of payment, but the person making the claim will need legal advice on how to be guided through this difficult process. There is no “price” for human life, but the law has some limitations and the amount that an insurance company may have to pay is limited. In these situations, it is best to have an attorney give you a hand to sort out a number of things:
1. Get the Estate started. There may be claims that can be made by the estate in addition to the claims made by the adult child;
2. Obtain the accident report and death certificate right away;
3. Put together a short history of your relationship with your parent so the insurance company can have a full understanding of the loss;
4. Have a list of any auto and life insurance policies that your parent may have had prior to their death as they may have some obligation to pay a benefit.
Parents always want their children to be fair and take care of their obligations. So, in the event that a parent is lost in a tragic accident or by medical negligence, it is a sure bet that the parent would want their child to pursue all claims and remedies. The compensation will never replace the loss of parent but the individuals that caused the untimely death should be required to satisfy that obligation to highest limits possible under the law.
For more information and to schedule a free consultation on any of your legal matters visit www.chapmanbowling.com or call 301.934.9969 for the LaPlata office and 301.884.0314 for the Lexington Park office.
Scott help founded Chapman & Bowling in 1988. Scott’s primary areas of concentration include
personal injury litigation in cases involving motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and
premises liability. Over his career, Scott has litigated personal injury matters in the state courts of Maryland, as well as participated in cases in Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida. He also has extensive
experience in construction and real estate litigation. Scott earned his law degree from George Washington University, National Law Center
and a B.A. from North Carolina State University.