August 24, 2019

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Maryland Wrongful Death Claims and the Common Law Spouse

Maryland wrongful death law only allows certain surviving loved ones to receive wrongful death compensation. Primary beneficiaries are the spouse, children, and parents of the decedent. If none of those is living, anyone related by blood or marriage, who was substantially dependent on the decedent, may become a beneficiary. The catch is, you can’t form a common law marriage in Maryland. But, Maryland does recognize common law marriages formed in other states that allow it. If you do not qualify as a spouse, you may still benefit from a survival action by the estate.

Common Law Marriage

Common law marriage is allowed in several states, but Maryland isn’t one of them. This can come as very painful knowledge if you believe, as so many do, that you and your deceased partner were married.

Many states do allow common law marriages, and some don’t now but did in the past. If you formed a common law marriage in another state, following that state’s rules, Maryland will recognize it. You may have to jump through hoops to prove it, but an experienced wrongful death attorney can help.

Survival Action by the Estate

If you are in your partner’s will, you may benefit indirectly from a survival action by the estate. The estate gets the money, and that can increase your inheritance. The damages in a survival action are different from wrongful death damages. Damages in a survival action can include:

  • Medical expenses between the time of injury and the time of death
  • Lost wages between the time of injury and the time of death
  • Property damage
  • Funeral expenses
  • Pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages between the time of injury and death
  • Punitive damages

To learn more about wrongful death and your legal rights, please contact an experienced Maryland wrongful death attorney today.

About Sandra Dalton

With a background as a paralegal, focusing on criminal defense and civil rights, Sandra Dalton launched her freelance writing career in 2000 with a weekly column on Freedom for Suite 101 and pro bono projects for individuals and organizations supporting causes close to her heart. One of her first projects was for the Police Compliant Center writing about police misconduct. Sandra’s legal writing quickly expanded to include personal injury, animal welfare, criminal defense, disability discrimination, family law and much more.

Sandra’s other writing around the web includes a broad range of topics such as food, pet health, feral cats, music and film. Sandra is also a fine art photographer, helps with animal rescue and TNR in her community, and volunteers as a DJ at her local radio station.