Family Files Wrongful Death Claim Against Landlord In Wake Of Deadly House Fire

According to a recent article published by the Baltimore Sun, the relatives of five people that were killed in a Baltimore, Maryland house fire last year have filed suit against the landlord of the property and the city housing authority. On October 11, 2012, Nancy Worrell and four of her grandchildren died when their house on Denwood Avenue caught on fire, trapping the decedents inside.

According to the lawsuit, the fire was caused by the landlord’s negligent failure to repair a defective furnace and install working smoke detectors. The lawsuit further alleges that a housing authority official inspected the property in January 2012 and awarded an “inconclusive” rating to the heating equipment, but the home was never re-inspected. The lawsuit contends that, because the Housing Authority of Baltimore was paying a portion of the home’s rent through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, it was negligent in failing to require the landlord to fix the furnace and install smoke detectors.

Under Maryland law, when the death of person is caused by the negligence of another, the decedent’s family may bring two different causes of action. The first, referred to as a survival action, is brought by the personal representative of the deceased seeking recovery for the pain and suffering and other damages suffered by the victim up to the time of death. In a survival action, the damages able to be recovered are limited to:

• Funeral expenses.
• Property damage.
• Medical expenses incurred from the time of injury to the time of death.
• Lost wages from the time of injury to the time of death.
• Non-economic damages, such as pain, suffering, mental anguish, suffered by the victim from the time of injury to the time of death.

The second cause of action is a wrongful death claim, which may be asserted by the relatives of the decedent and seeking compensation for the victim’s death. Under Maryland’s wrongful death statute, only a child, a parent or a spouse of the deceased may bring a wrongful death claim.

A wrongful death claim can be brought against anyone who, through recklessness, carelessness, negligence or lack of skill, causes the fatality of another. Damages in a wrongful death action are measured in terms of the injury to loved ones caused by the death of the victim, and can include loss of future earnings, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering.

Sadly, wrongful death actions can arise from a myriad of unfortunate circumstances, including traffic accidents, medical malpractice (such as through surgical error or misdiagnosis of an illness), defective products, premises liability, or improper supervision.

The qualified attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured or killed by the negligent acts of another. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed as a result of the negligence of another person, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.