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What are the Boundaries of Wrongful Death Actions in Maryland?

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Wrongful death is a subsection of personal injury law that allows family members to recover compensation for the loss of a loved one. In Maryland, specifically, wrongful death actions generally address the death of a spouse, minor child, parent or dependent adults. If the surviving family members meet specific conditions, they may be able to secure damages in court for wrongful death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action?

Maryland Code of Courts and Judicial Proceedings Section 3-904 provides the state-specific approach to wrongful death actions. In most circumstances, a wrongful death action compensates the deceased person’s:

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

In certain cases, however, the deceased person does not have a surviving spouse, parent or child. In those situations, a wrongful death action may compensate the deceased person’s:

  • Family members related by blood;
  • Family members related by marriage; or
  • Substantial dependents.

Are Certain People Disqualified from Wrongful Death Actions?

Section 3-904 prevents certain people from filing a wrongful death action on behalf of a deceased family member in Maryland. For example, a wrongful death action is not always available to a parent who committed or was convicted of:

  • Rape in the first degree under Maryland Criminal Code Section 3–303;
  • Rape in the second degree under Maryland Criminal Code Section 3–304;
  • Sexual offense in the first degree under Maryland Criminal Code Section 3–307;
  • Sexual offense in the second degree under Maryland Criminal Code Section 3–308;
  • Incest under Maryland Criminal Code Section 3–323;
  • Domestic violence under Maryland Criminal Code Section 3–601; or
  • Sexual abuse of a minor under Maryland Criminal Code Section 3–602.

Additionally, a parent who causes the death of their child is not able to file a wrongful death action on behalf of the deceased child. The inverse is also true. A child who causes the death of their parent is not able to file a wrongful death action on behalf of the deceased parent.

What Types of Damages are Available in Wrongful Death Actions?

Section 3-904 provides an overarching view of the damages available in wrongful death actions in Maryland. For example, Maryland law allows surviving family members to recover compensation for mental or emotional pain as well as loss of:

  • Advice;
  • Attention;
  • Comfort;
  • Companionship;
  • Counsel;
  • Education;
  • Filial care;
  • Guidance;
  • Marital care;
  • Parental care;
  • Protection;
  • Society; or
  • Training.

Despite the broad scope of damages available under Maryland wrongful death laws, there are limits in place. Maryland law places a cap on the non-economic damages available in any personal injury lawsuit, including wrongful death actions.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you have legal questions about wrongful death in Maryland, it can be decidedly worthwhile to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. The lawyers at Iamele & Iamele, LLP in Baltimore, Maryland, understand how to navigate the ins and outs of personal injury law in Maryland, including wrongful death actions. If you need legal help, contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Resource:

mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmStatutesText.aspx?article=gcj&section=3-904&ext=html&session=2017RS&tab=subject5

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