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Analyzing the Legal Backdrop of Wrongful Death Actions in Maryland


Wrongful death actions in Maryland provide an avenue for surviving family members to recover for the unjustified death of a loved one. As with many other U.S. states, Maryland law restricts this type of legal action to specific circumstances. In precise terms, the death in question must stem from a wrongful act. Additionally, the surviving family members must qualify in terms of relation to the deceased person, whether by blood or marriage.

What is the Definition of a Wrongful Act in Maryland?

The definition of a wrongful act appears in Maryland Code of Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 3-901. Under this section, a wrongful act includes:

  • Acts;
  • Neglects; and
  • Defaults.

Section 3-901 only refers to wrongful acts that could have resulted in a personal injury action and corresponding damages, but for the death of the person in question.

What are the Boundaries of Wrongful Death Actions in Maryland?

In most cases, state law provides a broad interpretation of wrongful death actions under Maryland Code of Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 3-902. As established under this section, it is possible to pursue legal action against any individual who causes the death of another person through a wrongful act.

Who Can Benefit from a Wrongful Death Action in Maryland?

Under Maryland Code of Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 3-904, only certain individuals may benefit from a wrongful death action. Specifically, wrongful death actions may only benefit a deceased person’s:

  • Wife;
  • Husband;
  • Parent; or
  • Child.

If a person does not have a living spouse, parent, or child, however, Maryland law still provides an avenue for a wrongful death action. In these circumstances, a person can file a wrongful death action if they were substantially dependent upon the deceased person and related by:

  • Blood; or
  • Marriage.

That being said, Section 3-904 does prohibit certain parents from mounting a wrongful death action. If the parent commits certain domestic violence crimes — such as rape or sexual assault — they may be disqualified from pursuing a wrongful death action.

Is there a Time Limit on Wrongful Death Actions in Maryland?

Section 3-904 only delineates the time limit for wrongful death actions in Maryland. Under this section, any person seeking to file a death action in Maryland must do so within three years of the death in question.

If a surviving family member waits more than three years to file a wrongful death action, the statute of limitations will likely lapse. In those cases, it is highly likely that the Maryland courts reject the underlying claim of wrongful death.

Let Us Help You Today

If you have legal questions about wrongful death or survival actions in Maryland, it can be substantially effective to contact an esteemed personal injury lawyer. The Baltimore wrongful death lawyers at Iamele & Iamele, LLP have proven credentials in the domain of personal injury, including wrongful death and survival actions. If you need legal help with these or other issues, please contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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