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Maryland Wrongful Death Attorneys

Maryland Wrongful Death and Survival Actions

When a person dies due to the negligence of another, there are potentially two types of claims triggered:

  • Survival Action: The legal basis of a survival action is similar to a personal injury case, except that the person was killed instead of merely injured. Therefore, the plaintiff is the decedent and the claim is to recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages. However, there are a couple of issues that arise in survival actions when it comes to standing to sue and how to assess damages.
  • Wrongful Death:These claims are based upon the emotional losses that the deceased person’s loved ones experience upon his or her death. Only beneficiaries designated by statute can file a wrongful death case, such as the spouse, parent, or children of the victim. The same law provides that damages are recoverable for mental and emotional anguish; loss of society, companionship, comfort, and protection; parental care and guidance; and similar losses.

A. Survival Actions

I. Standing to File a Lawsuit in a Survival Action

Under Maryland law, only a personal representative acting on behalf of the deceased can file a lawsuit for damages under the doctrine of survival actions. The personal representative essentially stands in the shoes of the decedent, taking actions and making decisions that the person who has died cannot.

This person may be designated by the decedent’s will, in which case the power to sue is given to the will executor. If the deceased person did not have a will, it is necessary to have a court appoint a personal representative to file the lawsuit. The process requires the proposed representative to file a petition in court, requesting that the judge appoint him or her to handle the decedent’s affairs. Typically, this individual would be the deceased person’s spouse, child, or parent.

II. Damages Available in a Survival Action

In a survival action, the victim’s estate is entitled to recover for any pain and suffering along with other damages and expenses that the victim went through as a result of the accident up until the moment of death. If the victim had to be hospitalized and suffered for several hours or days until their death, this would also be compensable as conscious pain and suffering. Additionally, you may be able to obtain compensation for hospital bills, funeral expenses and/or loss of spousal/parental support. An attorney handling a survival action will usually need to set up an estate on behalf of the victim, or help you to get a personal representative appointed.

As mentioned, survival actions share many of the same concepts behind a typical personal injury lawsuit. Many of the legal theories regarding damages apply, so a personal representative can sue for two types of damages:

  • Economic Damages: A personal representative can file an action to recover such economic losses as medical expenses, costs of funeral and burial services, damage to property, and lost wages between the accident and the person’s death.
  • Non-Economic Damages: As in a personal injury case, there may also be losses that are not so readily ascertainable as economic damages. The decedent’s personal representative may sue in a survival action to recover for pain and suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress, and loss of relationship.

Note that the relevant time for considering all non-economic damages is limited to the period between the accident that caused the injuries and the person’s death. Obviously, the decedent does not experience pain and suffering or emotional anguish after dying. Therefore, there may be no claim for non-economic damages if the death to the victim was instantaneous.

III. Statutory Caps
In wrongful death and survival actions, Maryland has established a statutory cap for plaintiffs. For wrongful death cases in which the cause of action arises on or after October 1, 2016, the statutory cap is $830,000. There is also a cap when two or more beneficiaries make a wrongful death claim, which is $1,245,000 as of October 1, 2016. The combined limit for wrongful death and survival action is $2,075,000. For each situation, the statutory cap increases on October 1 of each year.

It is important to understand that the statutory cap applies when the cause of action arises; in a Maryland car accident case, that would be the date the accident occurred.

B. Maryland Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death action can be brought by the relatives of the victim and the compensation is usually awarded to the victim’s relatives for the accidental death. Compensation may vary depending on the surviving parties kinship status to the deceased and an attorney should be consulted to determine what rights, if any, you may have in such a case.

I. Who Can Make a Maryland Wrongful Death Claim?

In Munger v. United States, 116 F. Supp. 2d 672 (D. Md. 2000): The court interpreted Maryland law to indicate that only a spouse, parent or child of the deceased would have standing to sue for wrongful death. The court notes that in other jurisdictions, the claim for wrongful death may belong to the estate of the deceased instead. In Maryland, the statute provides that if there is a surviving spouse, parent or child, another person may not bring a wrongful death action on behalf of the deceased. The statute does allow such claims by persons who are not a spouse, child or parent in certain instances such as where there are no surviving spouses, children or parents.

II. Damages Available to Wrongful Death Claimants
If a family member has suffered a tragic loss and died as a result of the negligent actions of another party, whether by a motor vehicle accident, a work-related accident or a medical error, the victim’s surviving dependents and relatives may be entitled to compensation for the medical bills of your family member before he or she died. The surviving parties may also be able to obtain compensation for any conscious pain and suffering sustained by the deceased family member between the time of the accident and the time of death. Other forms of compensation may include compensation for loss of income resulting from the death of the family member or provider. In addition, surviving family members may be entitled to compensation for mental anguish.

Note: We also handle Wrongful death and fatal accident claims that have occured in Virginia.

Similar to Maryland law, Virginia law allows for damages that are “fair and just.” (Va § 8.01-52) and the statute provides a complete list of damages including:

  •     Conscious Pain
  •     Funeral and burial expenses
  •     Personal Grief
  •     Medical Expenses
  •     Loss of future income
  •     Suffering
  •     Loss of Support
  •     Sorrow and mental illness

View the Virginia Wrongful Death Statute

If you have lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence, whether the death occurred in Maryland, Virginia or Washington D.C., it is important to retain an attorney who will assist with each potential cause of action (whether wrongful death or survival) and properly oversee administration of the deceased individual’s estate. There are frequently different theories of liability and complicated legal issues involved in such cases, but an experienced attorney can help with appointing a personal representative and in pursuing the responsible party for the appropriate damages.

The lawyers with Bob Katz Law, in Baltimore and in Virginia, have represented many clients in wrongful death and survival actions, and will strive to maximize compensation available under Maryland law for your family. Please contact our office  with questions or to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

Read Some of Our Recent Client Reviews!

Fadie Mohammad
Fadie Mohammad
14:54 08 Jan 19
Worked with Sarah Treuhaft (Paralegal) when retained Bob Katz's office. Sarah was absolutely amazing to work with, she was very professional and prompt with everything she did. She would respond to any inquiries I had immediately and never hesitated to hop on the phone to clarify or assist with anything, regardless of how early or late it was. I definitely highly recommend her and this law office.
Kelly Kess Malone
Kelly Kess Malone
15:50 20 Nov 18
Very helpful paralegals and attorney assistants. Also informative on various types of cases. Reasonably priced for the work that they provide.
Brittany Peterson
Brittany Peterson
08:19 17 Nov 18
Had a very awesome experience fast settlements... Communication was a A+ ...Strongly recommend Mr.Katz. !!! Ms. Robin made me felt like family was always there when i needed her and when i had a question.
Yarnell Goodwin
Yarnell Goodwin
23:38 15 Nov 18
Got a little more settlement money than expected. Was provided great service and prompt responses. I greatly appreciate it!
Ashley Poole
Ashley Poole
01:05 08 Nov 18
Attorney Bob Katz and his staff are highly recommend. Customer Service was impeccable. Every phone call and email was responded to in a timely manner. Natalie Ulrich was very professional, helpful and thorough every step of the way, which resulted in a stress free experience. I will recommend this law firm to family and friends!
Tania Jefferson
Tania Jefferson
17:51 06 Nov 18
Customer service was A+. All questions were answered promptly and information was shared appropriately. Concerns were addressed and I was made aware of all updates on my case. I would whole heartedly recommend this firm.
edward Robinson
edward Robinson
03:00 06 Nov 18
I highly recommend Mr. Katz and his staff. They were friendly, compassionate and really showed they had their clients best interest at heart. There was never a time you called them they didn't respond or returned your calls and answer your questions.They took the worry, and stress and turn it into reassurance. They were diligent and just down right professional. My wife and I really thank God for allowing us to cross paths on a professional business experience. Ms. Rebecca Slatery is the most courteous, compassionate soul. We wish you all peace, love and blessings. Thank you for your service.
20:11 31 Oct 18
I decided to use this firm again for an accident I was involved in. As always they were professional and caring. Rebecca slattery was the paralegal assigned to my case and she was professional and kept me up to date with everything. I would recommend this firm to friends and family!
Cedric Jones
Cedric Jones
19:04 23 Oct 18
Erica Z is amazing with keeping you to date and staying communication with you during the entire process. Meghan Young was a wonderful lawyer made me feel extremely comfortable in the courtroom and she also fights for the best possible outcome for you..GREAT LAW FIRM
Nguyen Le
Nguyen Le
16:44 23 Oct 18
It was a great experience being taken care of by Rebecca Slattery and Meghan Young, they helped me resolve my case and were very courteous and professional. Highly recommend working with this law firm
Soun Gil
Soun Gil
21:35 17 Oct 18
Ms. Park helped me out through my whole accident process. She took her time with me and made sure I understood everything. I would recommend to her all of my friends if they were to get into any accident.
Yejin Chung
Yejin Chung
15:40 12 Oct 18
I highly recommend. My family’s experience with this office was great. Christina Franetovich was very helpful throughout the whole process, which made this experience less stressful. She responded to my questions immediately and made sure that I understood everything.
Claudette Pope
Claudette Pope
13:18 30 Aug 18
I was referred to Gordon & feindblatt in 2014 when my family was in an accident, Mr. Katz personally consulted with me by phone and he was very polite and professional, Mr. Carpuso, one of the litigation attorneys even came out to our home and went over our case with us, he made sure all of our needs was addressed and before he left our home that day I felt like we were old friends. that case was settled and I was very pleased, I have used this law firm twice since then and the results are always the same, I have nothing but great experiences with Gordon & Feindblatt the staff are courteous and professional and they get the job done but the one in particular that really stood out for me is Rebecca Slattery, she is truly a gem, she is so compassionate, she walked me through the entire process, she even checked up on me from time to time just to see how I was feeling and I really appreciated her kindness. I will use this law firm again and again for any future legal issue that may arise and I would highly recommend Gordon & Fiendblatt to friends, family and co-workers.
02:32 04 Aug 18
The lawyer who was initially handling my case parted ways with the company and I was assigned a new lawyer. This new lawyer was amazing! Christina Franetovich made me feel secure by double checking all the facts and notes in my case so that I was not worried during this transition. I was on disability from an a different accident while she was finalizing my case, and I had called and hounded her about the time frame of my settlement very frequently to the point that I felt guilty for calling so much. Christina was very sympathetic to my situation and assured me that she would do everything in her power to make sure the situation would be resolved quickly. She actually finalized my case before the time frame she had given me, was always very courteous and knowledgable on the phone, and I feel extremely lucky that she ended up handling my case because the previous lawyer was not as amazing with customer service as Christina. She also has a way of making you feel comfortable and builds incredible rapport quickly. I am going to highly recommend her to my friends and family. Thank you Christina!!!
Richard Hose
Richard Hose
02:26 27 Jun 18
On Feb 23, 2017 I was in a bad accident on the JFX. I had been rear end by another driver. Almost immediately I felt pressured by the other drivers insurance. Everything from wanting a recorded statement; to failing to acknowledge responsibility. No one would answer my questions, nor would anyone take responsibility. I was frustrated and overwhelmed with everyone from the towing company, to the repair shop, to the insurance company nightmare I just entered. I reached out to Attorney Robert Katz and I was assured they were here to help. He provided with some much needed information, and told me not to worry, Sarah his Paralegal would be in touch to help get things moving. Sarah reached out as expected and explained their process and walked me through what my expectations would be. She as well assured me they were here to help me navigate the obstacles. What Sarah really did was so much more than help. She took the stress and burden off my shoulders and assumed ownership for handling everything on my behalf. I knew what to expect, and I received regular updates throughout the entire process. Honestly, I received so much more than I anticipated. Some of the most frustrating items to chase after are medical records and hospital charges. While I was trying to recall events and timelines, she had already obtained my records and information. She made this process so painless. I truly cannot say enough about the exceptional service she provided. Many thanks for all your help. Sincerely, Richard Hose
Andrea Barajas
Andrea Barajas
15:13 16 May 18
My husband and I were in a car accident in August 2017. We contacted Bob Katz team for legal representation in our case. Kristen A. Turner was our paralegal and she was excellent. It took 9 months for us to receive our settlement and Kristen kept us updated throughout this entire process. She was very kind and patient as I happened to have several questions. She always answered my questions promptly and thoroughly. I would highly recommend this firm and Kristen if you are in need of legal assistance.
15:24 09 Feb 18
My experience here was great. My lawyer Rebecca was so professional and I love her personality. She handled my case well and kept me updated and made the process easy and always made me feel comfortable to call whenever I needed to know anything.
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