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What is a Survival Action Under Maryland Law?


Survival actions are somewhat related to wrongful death lawsuits but with an important distinction. When a person dies due to negligence, it is possible to file a legal action and request damages. In a wrongful death action, any surviving family members can sue for their own damages, pain, and suffering.

A survival action is different because the lawsuit concerns the damages, pain, and suffering that the deceased person experienced. In other words, a survival action occurs on behalf of the person who died. Any damages or compensation from a survival action goes to the deceased person’s estate.

What are the Maryland Laws Governing Survival Actions?

Under Maryland Code of Courts & Judicial Proceedings Section 6-401, legal actions can extend beyond death. These survival actions allow a personal representative to act on behalf of the deceased person and file a lawsuit for damages incurred.

Under Maryland Code of Estates and Trusts Section 7-401, when a personal representative steps into the shoes of a deceased person, they are authorized to carry out numerous functions, including but not limited to:

  • Pay funeral costs and expenses;
  • Pursue or defend legal claims and actions;
  • Retain assets for proper distribution;
  • Continue business ventures;
  • Distribute funds and deposit assets
  • Purchase, sell, or manage property; and
  • Settle claims, taxes, and other expenses.

A validly appointed personal representative can execute their powers independently. Stated otherwise, a personal representative does not need special permission from the Maryland courts to carry out their duties and responsibilities.

What are the Maryland Damages Available in Survival Actions?

As a survival action is a personal injury lawsuit filed on behalf of a deceased person, the damages available align with other personal injury lawsuits. This means that the damages available in a survival action could include:

  • Funeral Costs — It is possible to recover compensation for reasonable costs and expenses related to funerals and similar ceremonies;
  • Property Damages — It is possible to recover compensation for any property damage stemming from the same incident that resulted in death;
  • Economic Damages — It is possible to recover economic damages, such as medical bills or lost wages, for the period of time between injury and death; and
  • Non-Economic Damages — It is possible to recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional loss, for the period of time between injury and death.

On the topic of damages, Maryland law does have certain limits in place for survival actions and other personal injury lawsuits. Specifically, there is a cap on the amount of non-economic damages available in these cases. The cap increases every year to maintain a reasonable limit on non-economic damages.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you have legal questions about wrongful death or survival actions in Maryland, it can be thoroughly productive to contact an appropriately skilled personal injury lawyer. The Baltimore wrongful death lawyers at Iamele & Iamele, LLP feature many years of combined legal experience in Maryland personal injury law, including wrongful death and survival actions. If you need legal help, please contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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