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Maryland Wrongful Death Laws

Accidental deaths can happen anywhere, including on a football field during practice. In fact, this happened to a promising Maryland college student after nearly four hours of helmet-to-helmet collisions. In that case, family members argued that their son's death was wrongful because staff failed to treat his head injuries and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) lacked proper concussion policies and failed to investigate the incident.

This case, which ultimately settled, is a good example of how Maryland wrongful death laws can not only compensate for losses, but also lead to internal changes within an organization to hopefully improve conditions for others going forward. Below you'll find a general overview of Maryland wrongful death laws.

What is a Wrongful Death?

Maryland law defines wrongful death as one resulting from "an act, neglect, or default including a felonious act which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued." In other words, if the person who died could have sued to recover damages for her injuries if she lived, then her relatives are entitled to bring action upon her death.

Wrongful Death vs. Survival Actions

Following a preventable death, there are actually two types of claims that can be brought against any responsible parties: (1) wrongful death claims; and (2) survival actions. Which one is filed depends on who is bringing the case and the damages that are sought.

Wrongful death actions are filed by relatives of the decedent (described in the chart below). In these actions, the claimants are seeking compensation for harm done to them as a result of their loved one's death. Survival actions are brought by a decedent's estate, standing in as the decedent's personal representative, and seek compensation for harm done to the decedent leading up to his or her death.

Maryland Wrongful Death Laws at a Glance

The chart below contains more specific information on Maryland wrongful death laws.


Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code, Section 3-901 (defining wrongful death)

Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code, Section 3-902 (authorizing wrongful death actions)

Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code, Section 3-903 (allowing prosecution of out of state wrongful death actions)

Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code, Section 3-904 (limiting recovery rights of certain parents; listing recoverable damages; and providing the applicable statute of limitations)

Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code, Section 7-401(y) (allowing survival actions by a decedent's estate)

Who May Bring an Action?

Wrongful death actions can be filed by the deceased's:

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

If no one qualifies in any of the categories above, then it can be brought by any person related to the deceased by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the deceased.

What Damages are Recoverable?

In addition to more specific forms of damages, such as lost wages and support, a wrongful death action can also seek compensation for:

  • Mental anguish;
  • Emotional pain and suffering;
  • Loss of companionship/consortium
Statute of Limitations

Actions for wrongful death must be filed within three years of the death of the injured person.

In cases of occupational disease involving exposure to toxic substances in the workplace, a wrongful death action must be filed within ten years of death or three years from when the cause of death was discovered, whichever is shorter.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources for Maryland Wrongful Death Laws

Questions? Get a Legal Review of Your Case Today

As you can see, Maryland wrongful death laws can get complicated, especially when it comes to who is entitled to file an action. Fortunately, there are expert personal injury attorneys who can advise you on how the law applies to the specific facts of your case. Reach out to an attorney in your area today for an initial evaluation of your case.

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