Every state in the United States has its own laws governing wrongful death. Let us check out some of the important parts that the Maryland laws deal with wrongful death. Maryland wrongful death claims are made with the intention to compensate the estate and the surviving immediate family members of a deceased person whose untimely death is caused by the negligence of another person or company.
Plaintiff’s filing a claim for wrongful death will do so as a personal injury claim in which the injured person is no longer available to bring his or her own claim to court. On behalf of the deceased, the family members must file a wrongful death claim in court in order to hold the defendant accountable and get compensation for their own losses and the losses of the estate.
There are two categories of wrongful death claims in Maryland and they are survival actions and wrongful death actions.
Survival actions in Maryland:
These are actions brought on behalf of the estate. They compensate the estate for losses it paid such as a funeral, burial, and medical expenses which are all related to the death. They also compensate the estate for losses the deceased person suffered directly, such as pain and suffering related to the final illness or injury.
Wrongful death actions in Maryland:
These are actions brought on behalf of the survivors of the deceased person such as the spouse, parents, and/or children. These actions are intended to compensate the surviving family members for the losses suffered in connection with their loved one’s untimely death, like lost wages, lost companionship, and lost support.
Who may file a wrongful death claim in Maryland?
There are some very specific rules regarding who shall file a wrongful death claim or a survival action in Maryland. Generally, a claim depends on whether it is classified as a primary or secondary beneficiary.
Primary beneficiaries in Maryland:
They include the surviving spouse, parents, and children of the deceased person. If a primary beneficiary is alive, he or she may file a wrongful death claim, a survival claim, or both. If a primary beneficiary brings either of these claims, any damages awarded in the claim are awarded solely to the primary beneficiaries.
Secondary beneficiaries in Maryland:
They include the siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, and other relatives of the deceased. If there are no primary beneficiaries or no primary beneficiary is not coming forward to bring either type of claim to court, a secondary beneficiary may file on behalf of both the primary and secondary beneficiaries.
Therefore, the primary beneficiaries will file a wrongful death claim in Maryland seeking damages for their own losses, while either a primary or secondary beneficiary will file a survival action seeking damages on behalf of the estate.
Damages in a Maryland Wrongful Death Case
In a claim for wrongful death claim in Maryland, the losses are measured in terms of money damages. The damages available depend on whether the claim brought is a survival claim or a wrongful death claim.
It should be noted here that damages available in a survival claim are for damages suffered by the estate due to the untimely death. It will include funeral and burial expenses, medical bills for the deceased person’s final illness or injury, property damage costs, and damages for the deceased person’s pain and suffering.
Damages available in a wrongful death claim are damages suffered by the deceased’s surviving family members as a result of the untimely death. These damages are measured in terms of the lost wages and other compensation, as well as the loss of the deceased person’s care, companionship, and guidance.
Maryland caps or limits non-economic damages in wrongful death claims. Non-economic damages are those of damages that cannot be measured in terms of money. These are typically losses such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship.
Caps on non-economic damages are tort reforms that limit damages on non-monetary losses that have a negative impact on the quality of life such as permanent disability, disfigurement, blindness, loss of a limb, paralysis, trauma, or physical pain and suffering.
Maryland’s current cap as of October 1, 2018, for non-economic damages for injuries and wrongful death cases is $860,000 and it increases annually.
Accordingly, the maximum recovery for non-economic pain and suffering damages in a wrongful death case is $2,150,000. The cap will increase slightly on October 1, 2019. The cap is defined in § 11-108 of Maryland’s Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article. The cap for individual cases is based on the date of the incident, i.e., if the accident happened on April 1, 2015, but the case was filed on February 3, 2016, the limit in place on April 1, 2015, will be taken into consideration
Time Limits on Filing Maryland Wrongful Death Claims in Maryland:
Maryland’s statute of limitations has a deadline for the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit in the state. These claims must typically be filed within three years of the date of the deceased person’s death. Claims filed after the three-year deadlines will not be entertained by the court at any cost.
If you need a Maryland wrongful death lawyer to help you with a Maryland wrongful death case, call 888-437-7747. Our Maryland wrongful death attorneys can help you.