For serious personal injury lawsuits, an important factor as to the value of the case is whether there is a cap on the amount of damages (money) that a jury can award. Maryland law does cap some damages.
Unlimited Damages: Economic Losses
Some damages are unlimited, meaning that a judge or jury can award as much as they find related to the defendant’s negligence. These types of damages include:
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Past lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Property damage
In some cases, these damages can rise very quickly. For a birth injury case where the plaintiff alleges that a delay in delivery caused cerebral palsy, for example, the child may require 24-hour-per-day nursing care. The cost of continual care can be exorbitant, which is why cerebral palsy birth injury cases can settle or go to trial for $3 million or more (there was a recent verdict in Baltimore City for $55 million in one such case).
Limited (Capped) Damages: Non-Economic Losses
Unlike economic losses which are fairly easy to calculate, Maryland’s legislature has limited the amount of non-economic damages. This includes:
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Disfigurement and embarrassment associated with disfigurement
- Effect of injuries on physical and mental health
- Physical impairment
- Loss of consortium (generally, the loss of benefits associated with a family relationship)
What Is The Non-Economic Damages Cap?
The cap is based on the year and the type of case. Medical malpractice caps, for instance, have a different cap than non-medical malpractice cases. Also, there is a different cap in each category for wrongful death cases.
For non-medical malpractice cases, the cap for injuries that occurred between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013 is $770,000.00 for the “survivor” claim (that is, the claim by the person who was directly injured), and $1,155,000.00 for all wrongful death claims with two or more beneficiaries (for example, where a parent dies and leaves three children behind). The survivor cap increases by $15,000.00 every year, and the wrongful death cap is always 1.5 times the survivor cap.
For medical malpractice cases, the applicable cap is set for each year from January 1 to December 31. For 2013, the cap will be $725,000.00 for a survivor claim, and $906,250.00 for all wrongful death claims. There is no rational reason why medical malpractice claims are “valued” lower than non-medical malpractice claims. From our perspective, a life is a life and should be treated equally. The survivor claim also increases by $15,000.00 per year (and the wrongful death cap is 1.25 times the survivor claim). Unlike non-medical malpractice cases, the claimants cannot recover the combined value of a survival claim and a wrongful death claim. The total claim is capped out at the wrongful death value.
Contact us if you have questions about the value of your personal injury, automobile accident or medical malpractice claim. We can explain the applicable damage caps, and tell you over the phone whether you have a case. Contact our personal injury lawyers at 1-800-776-4529, or through our website.
More Maryland Injury Lawsuit Information
- What Is My Maryland Automobile Accident Case Worth?
- Maryland Car Accident Settlements
- Ingerman & Horwitz: Main Medical Malpractice Webpage
- Maryland Circuit Courts