Each state has its own laws on wrongful death lawsuits, and Maryland is
no different. Wrongful death is defined as a death that resulted from
an act of negligence, including a criminal act, wherein the deceased could
have brought an action to recover damages had he or she not died. The
intent of a wrongful death lawsuit is to compensate the immediate family
and estate of the deceased individual whose death was caused due to the
actions of another person.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Generally, wrongful death claims are categorized into either wrongful death
actions or survival actions.
Wrongful Death Actions: These are claims brought on behalf of the deceased person’s survivors,
like the children, spouse, or parents. Compensation here can include damages
like lost wages, lost support, and lost companionship.
Survival Actions: Survival actions are brought on behalf of the deceased person’s
estate and can reimburse the estate for losses they paid, including funeral
and burial expenses and medical costs related to the person’s death.
Other potential compensation includes any direct losses the deceased person
suffered, like pain and suffering, for a period of time before they died.
Survivor actions differ from wrongful death actions because they seek
to compensate the actual individual who passed away. Essentially, the
claim “survives” after their death, and because they cannot
pursue the action themselves, a representative of the estate will act
on the deceased’s behalf.
Statute of Limitations
Any action for wrongful death has to be filed with the court within three
years of the date of death. Cases that involve occupational disease —
such as workplace exposure to toxic substances, for example — have
to be filed within 10 years from the date of death, or three years from
when the cause of death was determined, whichever time frame is shorter.
Damages Cap on Wrongful Death Claims
Maryland has a damages cap for the total amount of non-economic damages
in a wrongful death action. The cap increases annually, by $15,000 each
year. For example, a cause of action that occurred on or after October
1, 2017, would have a non-economic damages cap of $845,000. For a wrongful
death action that occurred on or after October 1, 2015, but prior to October
1, 2016, the cap would be $815,000.
Retaining a Maryland Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful death actions are complex and can take a serious emotional toll
on the deceased person’s loved ones. The pain of losing a loved
one is hard enough, and adding on a difficult civil matter that could
branch off in different directions often proves to be too much for someone
to handle without an attorney who specializes in wrongful death claims.