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January 4, 2024

Maryland Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

The Maryland Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations is a critical aspect of the state's legal framework, impacting families seeking justice in cases involving the loss of a loved one due to negligence or wrongful actions. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of Maryland's statute, providing insights into legal timelines, exceptions, and the paramount importance of understanding and complying with these regulations.

What Is the Maryland Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?

The Maryland Wrongful Death Statute, as created by the Maryland State Legislature, serves as a legal recourse that allows surviving families to seek compensation for the profound loss of their loved ones due to the wrongful actions of another. Under § 3-904(c)(1) of the statute, "damages may be awarded to the beneficiaries proportioned to the injury resulting from the wrongful death." This statute establishes a critical framework for regulating the timing of wrongful death lawsuits and ensuring that legal actions are initiated promptly while protecting the rights of all parties involved. 

Legal Timelines in Maryland 

In Maryland, the standard statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is typically set at three years from the date of the deceased individual's death. This means that a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within this three-year window to be considered valid by the court. However, it's important to note that this timeline may be subject to variations based on specific case circumstances. For example, if the deceased person was a minor, the statute of limitations might not commence until they would have reached the age of majority. If the deceased person died from an occupational disease then the lawsuit must either be filed within ten years of the date of death or three years of the date that the disease was identified as the person's cause of death.  

Exceptions and Special Cases

Exceptions to the standard three-year statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in Maryland can apply. For instance, if the cause of death was not immediately apparent or discernible, the timeline for filing a lawsuit may begin when the cause becomes known or should have been known through reasonable diligence. This exception ensures that families are not unfairly burdened by immediate legal action in cases with unclear circumstances.

What Types of Damages Are Possible in a Maryland Wrongful Death Case?

In a Maryland wrongful death case, various types of damages may be pursued by the surviving family members or beneficiaries. These damages, as outlined in Maryland law, can include:

Economic Damages:

  • Medical expenses related to the deceased person's final injury or illness.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Loss of financial support, including the deceased's future earning potential.
  • The value of services, care, and assistance provided by the deceased.

Non-Economic Damages:

Punitive Damages:

  • In rare cases where the wrongful actions were particularly egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the responsible party.

It's important to note that the specific damages that can be pursued may vary based on the circumstances of the case and Maryland law. Consulting with an experienced attorney is essential to understand the types of damages applicable to your particular wrongful death claim and to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your loss.

Factors Influencing the Statute of Limitations

Several factors can significantly influence the application of Maryland's Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations. These factors, as highlighted in various articles, include:

  • The nature of the wrongful act leading to the death.
  • The identity of the defendant or responsible party.
  • The availability of evidence relevant to the case.
  • Specific case circumstances, such as government entity involvement.

These factors should be carefully considered when pursuing a wrongful death claim, as they can impact the timeline and requirements associated with the statute of limitations. Understanding how these factors apply to your case is essential for effective legal action.

Calculating the Statute of Limitations 

Accurately calculating the statute of limitations in a wrongful death case is essential. It requires a thorough understanding of various elements. Families and their legal representatives must pinpoint the date of the deceased person's death, considering any factors that could extend or modify the timeline. Precise calculation is vital to ensure that the lawsuit is filed within the prescribed time, as failing to do so could jeopardize the case.

Conclusion 

Understanding the Maryland Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations is pivotal for families seeking justice after the loss of a loved one. Adhering to legal timelines, considering exceptions, and seeking professional legal guidance from experienced attorneys specializing in wrongful death cases, are crucial steps in navigating this complex area of the law. Their expertise is instrumental in helping you understand your rights, calculate deadlines accurately, and pursue the compensation you deserve. If you have questions or require legal assistance in a Maryland wrongful death case, we encourage you to contact Schultz Legal today to ensure that your rights are protected and that you can seek justice for your family.