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Can an Estate Sue for Wrongful Death in Maryland?


When a person in Maryland is killed through the negligence of another, such as in a car accident or through medical malpractice, surviving family members are usually entitled to pursue two types of wrongful death claims. the first type of claim is a wrongful death action, where the surviving family member seeks to recover for their losses and emotional pain. the other is called a survival action and is filed on behalf of the estate of the deceased. Below, our Baltimore wrongful death attorney at Rice, Murtha & Psoras looks more closely at survival actions in Maryland.

Survival Actions in Maryland for the Estate of the Deceased

A survival claim is similar to other lawsuits in Maryland that are based on the negligent conduct of another person or entity. First, if you want to file a survival claim on behalf of the estate of someone who suffered a wrongful death, you must abide by the statute of limitations. Under Maryland law, the survival claim must be filed within three years of the date your loved one died. However, there is a discovery exception. Under this exception, the three-year clock does not begin until the claimant knew or should have reasonably known about the negligent conduct. Every case is fact-specific, but generally, it is not a good idea to wait until the deadline is about to expire. Our Maryland wrongful death attorney will need time to prepare your case and you do not want to lose critical evidence by hesitating. Furthermore, missing the deadline could permanently prohibit the estate from recovering its rightful compensation.
Survival claims are usually filed alongside wrongful death lawsuits. the facts surrounding the accident and death will impact how long it takes to settle or resolve these claims. it is typically good advice to assume the case will take longer than you anticipate. While some cases appear straightforward, it is not uncommon for complications to arise. For example, it could take some time to determine liability if a defendant is challenging fault or if there are multiple defendants involved. Additionally, it often takes a significant period to properly understand and calculate the appropriate damages. Our experienced Maryland wrongful death attorney will have to gather evidence to establish liability and support your damages claim.

Damages Available in an Estate’s Survival Claim in Maryland

Another difference between a survival action and a wrongful death claim is the type of damages available. When an eligible family member files a wrongful death lawsuit, they are seeking monetary compensation for how the death affected them. For example, a family member could be compensated for their emotional suffering and loss of companionship or consortium. When our Eldersburg wrongful death attorney files a survival claim on behalf of the estate, we are seeking compensation for the pain and suffering the deceased endured because of their injury. Furthermore, the award in a wrongful death claim is paid directly to the claimant. In a survival action, any monetary compensation is paid to the deceased’s estate.
When calculating damages in a survival claim, the type and time of death is essential in determining the amount. If the deceased suffered an instantaneous death, the potential damages could be significantly limited. Specific damages are calculated from the date of injury through the date of death.
Under Maryland law, the estate is entitled to recover for certain damages. This includes financial losses such as funeral and burial costs, medical expenses incurred between the time of the injury and death, and lost wages during the same period.
Additionally, the estate is permitted to recover noneconomic damages between the date of the injury and death. the victim’s estate could be compensated for the pain and emotional distress the victim suffered due to the injury.
In some cases, punitive damages could be awarded. Punitive damages are awarded as a punishment when a defendant’s conduct was willfully malicious and reprehensible. This type of award is rare in Maryland and usually not available in all cases.

Proving Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim for an Estate

The evidence our Maryland wrongful death attorney will need to support the damages sought will depend on the case’s facts – every survival action is unique.
Supportive evidence for financial losses is usually the easiest to collect. Our office will gather receipts for hospital expenses, ambulance costs, medication costs, and the expenses associated with the funeral and burial. Because there is no speculation or estimation regarding future wages, calculating the lost wages between the date of the injury and death is rarely challenging.
Noneconomic damages are much more challenging to prove. Placing a value on the amount of suffering a person endured before they died is not easy. Our office will consider the circumstances surrounding the injury and the length of time between the injury and death to help determine a justifiable amount. Additionally, our experienced Mount Airy, MD wrongful death attorney will look at previous case law and awards to calculate a reasonable amount.

Call Our Maryland Wrongful Attorney to Discuss Filing a Lawsuit on Behalf of an Estate

When a person dies, their estate often has considerable expenses. When the negligence of another party caused the death, a survival action could be filed on behalf of the estate to recover damages. Our Maryland personal injury lawyer will fight for the compensation your deceased loved one would have received. If your family member or loved one was the victim of wrongful death, contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras to discuss your options. Call (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free consultation.