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What is the Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death in Maryland?

Wrongful death and medical malpractice are two distinct legal concepts. However, they are often intertwined. Both fall under the broad category of tort law. Under tort law, a person who is injured by another person, company, or entity has the right to seek monetary compensation through a personal injury claim.

When a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional fails to provide the acceptable level of medical care, they could be held liable if someone suffered an injury due to their negligent conduct or decisions. Our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys would work to gather evidence to hold the liable party financially accountable for the harm they caused.

However, if someone dies because of medical malpractice, the surviving family members have a right to seek compensation for the harm they suffered. Through either a wrongful death claim or survival action, the negligent party could be held responsible. Wrongful death claims arise from incidents where a personal injury lawsuit would normally be appropriate if the injuries were not fatal. If you think you were the victim of medical malpractice or have questions regarding wrongful death, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.

Medical Malpractice in Maryland

Medicine is not an exact science. Doctors will prescribe different medical treatments for people suffering from the same illness. Surgeries are never routine. Many patients will experience negative complications, sometimes fatal, even when a medical professional does not make a mistake. Because of this, medical malpractice cases are often challenging. Our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers will have to demonstrate that your doctor or other medical professional deviated from what a prudent professional would have done under the same circumstances. To do this, our office will rely on medical records and, more importantly, the testimony of another medical expert.

Wrongful Death Claims in Maryland

As stated above, wrongful death claims are also a form of tort law. This means our Maryland wrongful death attorney will have to prove that your loved one died because of the defendant’s negligent conduct. Unlike a medical malpractice or personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death claim is filed by an eligible surviving family member, usually a spouse, child, or parent. However, if someone dies due to complications of medical malpractice, there are two types of claims that could be filed.

A Wrongful Death Claim

A surviving family member files a wrongful death claim. the person filing the lawsuit is seeking compensation for the harm the death caused them. For example, a spouse could sue to recover for loss of companionship and income. A child might seek compensation for loss of guidance. Additionally, surviving members could be awarded a judgment for their emotional pain and grief.

A Survival Action

A personal representative of the deceased’s estate would file a survival action. the estate is seeking compensation for the damages the deceased would have recovered if they survived, such as lost wages, medical expenses, and emotional distress. In most cases, our Baltimore wrongful death lawyers will file both claims concurrently.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits vs. Wrongful Death Claims in Maryland

To be successful in either a medical malpractice lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, our Maryland personal injury lawyers must prove that the defendant’s conduct was negligent. However, there are some crucial differences between the two types of legal actions.

Maryland’s Statute of Limitations

Maryland’s statute of limitations sets deadlines for all civil actions. Therefore, if you are injured, you have a specified timeframe in which to file a lawsuit. If you miss your window, your lawsuit will likely be dismissed.

Under Maryland law, medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within three years of the date of the injury or incident. However, because many medical complications are not readily noticeable, the three years begins from the date you should have reasonably discovered the injury. However, this extension is limited to five years from the date of your injury. If a minor suffered an injury due to medical malpractice, they have until three years after their eighteenth birthday.

Wrongful death lawsuits or survival actions also must be filed within three years. However, the deadline is based on the date the person died, not necessarily the date of the negligent conduct. In some situations, you could have a medical malpractice lawsuit and wrongful death claim arising from the same incident. It is important to remember that one does not affect the other in terms of the statute of limitations. For example, a person could fail to file a timely medical malpractice lawsuit and be barred by the statute of limitations. If they die because of medical malpractice, their surviving family members could still file a wrongful death claim, as long as it is within three years of the death.

Limitations of Available Damages for Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawsuits and Wrongful Death Claims

Unlike other types of negligence lawsuits, Maryland has imposed caps on the non-economic damages available in both medical malpractice and wrongful death claims. As of 2021, a plaintiff’s non-economic damages in a medical malpractice claim cannot exceed $845,000. For a wrongful death claim made by two or more surviving beneficiaries, the non-economic damages are limited to $1,056,250. Fortunately, there is no cap for your economic damages.

Our Maryland Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death Lawyers Offer Free Consultations

When a healthcare professional makes an unjustifiable error, it could result in grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit. Our Towson personal injury lawyers are committed to fighting for the rights of those who have needlessly suffered due to medical malpractice, including family members who have lost a loved one. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 for a free legal consultation.