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Three Things You Should Know About Suing for Wrongful Death

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If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone’s negligent or careless conduct, you may already know you and your family could be eligible for financial compensation. However, you may not realize all that goes into pursuing justice in a Maryland civil claim for wrongful death. Among the many things that can complicate such a claim, there are three things you should definitely understand about wrongful death claims in Maryland.

#1 The Statute of Limitations Can Vary 

If you’ve read up on Maryland statutes of limitations, you may have discovered that you only have 3 years from the date of death to file such a lawsuit. This can, however, be a bit deceiving. Consider a couple situations where the rules may be different.

Tolling Rules

The law generally allows some flexibility if a plaintiff has a mental impairment that would preclude them from being competent to file a lawsuit. But don’t assume this applies to your family’s situation. Always check with an attorney first.

Out-of-State Defendants

Generally you can sue a defendant wherever the negligence took place. Sadly, many times defendants are out-of-state corporations. In certain situations, you may have to sue a defendant where they reside. If so, you could be subject to much shorter limitations periods, depending on the laws of that state.

Injuries Not Resulting in Death

It is technically only a wrongful death claim if the injury caused the death. If the victim suffered injuries then later died from something unrelated, your time limit could be a lot shorter for bringing a lawsuit.

#2 Chances Are You’ll Need to Establish a Probate Estate 

Because most catastrophic and life-threatening injuries will result in pain and suffering, medical bills and other expenses before the victim dies, there will usually be separate potential claims for the victim’s estate and loved ones. Therefore, you may need to establish a probate estate in order to have legal authority to file suit. This is yet another reason to contact an experienced local attorney as soon as your loved one’s death was caused by negligence.

#3 Heirs Listed in a Will May Not Automatically Be Entitled to Compensation 

Wrongful death claims are brought by loved ones, due to a loss. When a surviving spouse files a wrongful death lawsuit, he or she is suing for their own injury, namely, the loss of a loved one. Maryland law allows compensation based on the degree to which each loved one suffered. This is different and distinct from any compensation the decedent’s estate may receive.

For instance, imagine a person left 50% of his estate to a charity in a will. Any monetary compensation recovered for the estate would necessarily be subject to distribution per the will. However, the Wrongful Death Act in Maryland would not allow the charity to bring an action or recover compensation. These entitlements belong specifically to surviving spouses, children, and parents of surviving children. Therefore, there are situations where parties listed in a will may not also be entitled to compensation from a wrongful death action.

Get Help With Your Wrongful Death Case Now 

If you are concerned about a loved one’s death and believe it may be due to negligence, call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink P.A. in Maryland today to schedule a free consultation.

Resource:

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

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