In a recent case before a state appellate court, the court considered whether a spouse could be added to a wrongful death claim after the statute of limitations had expired. In that case, a man was transported to a hospital via ambulance after he began bleeding from the area where he was receiving dialysis treatment. He died three days later. The man’s wife initially did not want to participate in the lawsuit and the man’s children sued several medical providers for wrongful death. The defendants argued that the case should be dismissed because the spouse was not a plaintiff in the suit. Under the state’s wrongful death statute, children can only bring a wrongful death claim if the deceased person does not have a surviving spouse. After the statute of limitations had passed, the plaintiffs attempted to add the wife to the claim. The trial court dismissed the suit against certain defendants because the wife had not filed the claim, but allowed it to continue against the providers.
The appeals court ruled that the court should have allowed the wife to be added. The court held that in this case, the amendment adding the spouse to the lawsuit after the expiration of the statute of limitation related back to the original complaint because it arose out of the same occurrence and the defendant would not be prejudiced. The court stated that a delay in filing was not enough to deny the amendment of the spouse. Therefore, the trial court should have added the wife to the case, and the court reinstated the case.
Possible Plaintiffs Under Maryland’s Wrongful Death Statute
Under Maryland’s wrongful death statute, a wrongful death claim normally must be filed by a spouse, a parent, or a child of the deceased person. § 3-904. If there is no spouse, parent, or child who qualifies to file a wrongful death claim, the claim can be brought by any person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage “who was substantially dependent upon the deceased.” Only one case can be filed for the death of a person under the wrongful death statute. There are also limitations on when a parent can file a claim, depending on the nature of the deceased person’s death. The wrongful death statute is meant to compensate family members for the loss of the deceased. Generally, a claim must be filed within three years of the date of death.
Contact an Experienced Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a Maryland accident, contact a dedicated injury attorney with the experience necessary to succeed. The Maryland wrongful death attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, have been providing aggressive representation for over 20 years to Baltimore-area residents that have suffered personal injuries, property damage, and other financial losses. Our team understands what it takes to build a successful wrongful death case and to aggressively pursue the compensation that our clients need and deserve following a life-changing accident. For a free consultation, contact us today by calling 1-800-654-1949 or by filling out our online form.