A wrongful death action is an action brought by the spouse or a limited number of family members, (as defined by the law of the state in which the incident occurred) that have a claim because their loved one was killed due to the carelessness of another. Each state, and the District of Columbia, defines the individuals permitted to bring wrongful death action differently. Moreover, permissible claims vary depending on the jurisdiction of the case. In some jurisdictions grief for the loss of a loved one is a potentially compensable claim, (e.g. in Maryland) while in other jurisdictions (e.g. the District of Columbia) you cannot claim grief for a deceased spouse, child, or parent. Moreover, the time permitted to file a wrongful death action varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In the District of Columbia a wrongful death action must be brought within one year from the date of death while in Maryland the wrongful death action must generally be brought within 3 years from date of death. This can be particularly important since the survival action - the action that is brought on behalf of the injured party who passed away for causes related or unrelated to the incident - must be brought within generally three years of the date of the incident. So, as you can see, in the District of Columbia at least, a wrongful death action may need to be brought before the expiration of the statute of limitations of the survival action. What all of this means is that the law is fraught with complicated decision making whenever there is a death of an individual that has a pending claim for injuries sustained through the carelessness of another. Accordingly, when you, a family member or a close friend of yours is injured through the carelessness of another and then passes away, whether as a result of the incident causing the injury or an unrelated cause, an attorney, such as those experienced in personal injury litigation at Chaikin & Sherman, P.C., is highly recommended.
by Ira Sherman