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Maryland Wrongful Death Lawsuits

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.

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