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Who can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Maryland?

When someone dies as a result of another party’s negligence or intentional act, the victim’s family may have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, your spouse passes away as a result of a major auto accident with another driver who ran a red light. You would have the right to sue the other driver who ran the red light. Wrongful death claims can typically be divided into two categories — a wrongful death action and a survival action.

The wrongful death action is started by the survivors of the deceased person, like the spouse, parents, and/or children. The premise of a wrongful death action is to compensate the surviving family members for their losses, which can include the loss of the deceased’s income, companionship, and support.

With a survival action, the suit is filed on behalf of the deceased’s estate. It will cover expenses related to the person’s death. This can include funeral and burial costs and any outstanding medical expenses incurred before he or she died. If the deceased lived for any length of time following the accident, a survival action would also compensate for losses the deceased suffered, like pain and suffering.

Who Has the Right to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Maryland?

Like other states, Maryland has specific rules on who can file a wrongful death or survival action. These are broken up into primary and secondary beneficiaries.

  • Primary Beneficiaries: Primary beneficiaries include the surviving spouse, parents, and any children of the deceased. If the deceased has any primary beneficiaries, they can bring a wrongful death action, a survival action, or both.
  • Secondary Beneficiaries: Secondary beneficiaries would include the deceased’s brothers and sisters, cousins, nephew and nieces, and other relatives. If the deceased has no primary beneficiaries or none are willing to bring either a wrongful death or survival action to court, then the secondary beneficiary has the right to file on behalf of both beneficiary classifications.

In most cases, a primary beneficiary would be the one to file the wrongful death claim to recover compensation for their own loss, while either could file the survival action to assert damages on behalf of the decedent’s estate.

Statute of Limitations on Maryland Wrongful Death Actions

There is a statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in the state. Typically, a wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the date the victim passed away. Any claims filed after the statute of limitations has expired are usually thrown out of court without even so much as a hearing.

Retaining a Maryland Wrongful Death Attorney

If a loved one has passed away due to someone else’s negligence, reckless behavior, or even an intentional act, you have the right to bring a wrongful death claim. These can be complex, and may take some time to pursue, so it is important to speak with a skilled Maryland wrongful death attorney to find out whether you qualify to bring a wrongful death action and how the process works.

Please contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at 301-870-1200 today to schedule a consultation. Let one of our experienced Maryland personal injury attorneys help you through this difficult and emotional time.