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What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action in Maryland?

Even though no dollar amount can replace the void left by a loved one’s death, Ashley Davis’ family crossed a milestone toward recovery after being awarded $90 million recently in a wrongful death suit. Davis was 13 years old when she succumbed to injuries sustained after being hit by a car as she was crossing the road to catch her school bus in Maryland. The school board was found guilty of acting negligently by not directing the bus to pick Davis up on her own side of the street, which directly resulted in her death. Maryland law gives the family of someone who was killed in an accident, because of medical malpractice or as a result of any negligent act by another party two options for pursuing compensation:  survival or wrongful death.

Survival action

A survival action is a suit brought by the decedent’s personal representative that deals with harm done to the decedent. In this type of case, damages awarded are those that the decedent would have been able to recover on their own if the injury would not have been fatal, such as pain and suffering, lost wages and other actual losses they incurred from the time of the injury to death. If death was instantaneous, Maryland law limits recoverable damages to medical and funeral expenses.

Wrongful death

A wrongful death suit is different than a survival action because it awards compensation based on the damages incurred by beneficiaries who suffered due to the decedent’s death. Beneficiaries are spouses, children, parents or anyone who was dependent on the decedent. Maryland law allows damages to be awarded for losses such as pain and suffering, loss of spousal companionship, mental anguish, and loss of protection or parental care. The amount awarded is given in one payment to be divided among the various entitled beneficiaries.

There is a cap on noneconomic damages for both types of legal actions, and either claim must be filed within three years after the date of death. If a loved one was taken from you due to someone else’s negligence, call a wrongful death attorney in La Plata to discuss your legal options.

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