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Maryland’s Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations (Explained Simply)

In most situations, the wrongful death statute of limitations in Maryland is three years from when the person dies. If an occupational disease or homicide caused the death, eligible surviving family members may have a different deadline. Additionally, if the surviving family member is a minor, they may file a lawsuit within three years after turning 18. Likewise, if someone fraudulently conceals information about the cause of death, this may extend the filing deadline. 

The compassionate team at Snyder Law Group understands the immense pain and anguish experienced by those who lose a loved one because of another person’s actions. Our wrongful death attorneys have extensive training in advocating for surviving family members. We understand what evidence to look for to prove the claim and how to navigate the nuanced filing deadlines. 

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Under Maryland law, a wrongful death claim can be brought against someone for causing another person’s death. For example, a spouse may bring a lawsuit against a negligent doctor whose botched surgical intervention caused a patient to die. In Maryland, eligible surviving family members submit the lawsuit. Family members who may be entitled to sue include a spouse, parent, or child. Ideally, the family members would bring the lawsuit together (e.g., in one case) rather than separately. 

What Is the Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Maryland? 

Maryland law gives surviving family members three years to file a claim for an injury that causes their loved one’s death. Unless tolling provisions apply, the three-year window begins when the individual dies. This deadline comes into play even if the victim brings a lawsuit for that injury before they die. Other deadlines (such as the medical malpractice time limit) don’t change the wrongful death statute of limitations. In other words, the wrongful death timeline is different from those for other claims (such as car accident lawsuits). 

What Exceptions Exist That May Extend the Statute of Limitations? 

Exceptions exist that may give surviving family members additional time to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, those who are minors when their parent dies may file a case when they turn 18. Likewise, if their loved one is murdered, the law may afford them more time to take legal action. A personal injury attorney can help victims identify and meet their filing deadlines. They can also investigate the claim and see if an important exception to the statute of limitations applies. 

Minors Extension

Recognizing that minors are in a unique position, Maryland may give them additional time to take action. Under Maryland law, minors may have three years from when they turn 18 to bring a lawsuit for the death of a parent. Ideally, the other adult family members would submit a case on behalf of the minor (or join them in the lawsuit). But if this doesn’t happen, the minor may be able to do so when they are a legal adult (e.g., turn 18). 

Fraudulent Concealment

In cases of fraud, Maryland law may allow people to file a lawsuit after the ordinary deadline expires. This exception may apply if someone fraudulently conceals the cause of another person’s death. In this situation, the clock does not begin to run until the surviving family member knows or should have known they had a cause of action. 

An Occupational Disease Causes the Death

In some situations, an occupational disease (such as mesothelioma) causes someone’s death. This can make it challenging for family members to know why their loved one died. For example, they may know their loved one died of cancer but not realize until much later that it was due to dangerous working environments. 

Recognizing this possibility, Maryland gives surviving family members a different deadline to follow. If the person dies because of an occupational disease, their surviving loved ones may need to file a claim within the shorter of 10 years after the death or three years after they discovered the cause of death. 

The Death Is Caused by Criminal Homicide

The courts may calculate a fatal injury deadline in a criminal homicide case differently than in other situations. Let’s say the surviving family members don’t know who killed their loved one. In that case, they may have to file a lawsuit within three years after they discover who is responsible for their loved one’s death. 

For this exception to apply, one of the people who was involved in killing their loved one must be the person who concealed this information from them. Additionally, the surviving family members must not have had other ways (e.g., a public indictment) of discovering the information. 

How Can You Pursue a Claim After the Deadline Has Expired?

If you miss the deadline to file a wrongful death claim in Maryland, you may not be able to take legal action. An exception to this is if you can give a valid reason for filing outside the ordinary timeframe. To do so, you should be able to explain that one of the tolling provisions applies to your situation. For example, you can tell the court that you were a minor when the wrongful death action arose. Or that the at-fault party concealed vital information from you about your loved one’s death. 

Snyder Law Group Can Help You Meet the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

When a loved one dies because of someone else’s actions, it can have immense consequences on your life. In addition to carrying the weight of the grief, you may also be faced with financial consequences, especially if your loved one was the primary breadwinner. While nothing can truly compensate you for your loss, filing a wrongful death claim may help you to rebuild. 

Many individuals have trusted the team at the Snyder Law Group to take legal action after the death of their loved ones. We understand how challenging and frustrating it can be when you’re in this situation. With nearly 20 years of experience in this field, Scott Snyder is a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom. He stays abreast of changes in this area of the law and has the training to serve as an effective advocate for surviving family members. 

If your loved one was killed by someone else’s action, contact us today by calling 410-604-8467 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. 


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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 7th, 2023 at 3:14 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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