Personal injury laws protect those who have been wrongfully affected by the negligence of another entity (person, business, or product). Personal injury claims are handled in the civil court. When a person files a lawsuit for damages, the amount of the award is determined by a jury and varies greatly from case to case. There is no specific cap in Maryland law for personal injury cases.
There are two types of possible awards:
- Compensatory damages
- Punitive damages
Personal Injury Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages are designed to restore the injured person’s state prior to the injury, whether psychologically, financially, and physically. In other words, compensatory damages look at what the person’s state was before the incident and attempts to reinstate that position. Compensatory damages also have two subcategories, which are:
- Monetary loss or special damages
- Non-monetary loss or general damages
In the monetary loss category, victims can get compensation for medical expenses, cost of living with a disability, lost wages, repair of property (if applicable), funeral and burial expenses, etc.
The medical expenses compensation includes previous and future rehab or healthcare costs incurred due to the injury. These are estimated by taking a look at the victim’s medical records and what this person will need for the rest of his life.
The cost of living with a disability entails compensation based on the life changes this injury causes the victim. For example, adding a wheelchair trail to a home in order for the victim to be able to move around the property in a wheelchair would be covered. In-home nursing care is also part of this compensation.
If the victim was actively working at the time of the injury, he or she may also get lost wages compensation for the off time he or she was forced to take due to the injury. In the replacement of property compensation, the victim may recover the costs of, for example, a vehicle in the case of a car accident, which would be based on fair market value. Also, family members of a victim who passed away can be get reimbursed for the cost of the funeral and burial.
As far as non-monetary losses, a victim may receive compensatory damages for pain and suffering and loss of companionship. These damages can be more complex to calculate, because they are not easily assigned a dollar amount.
Compensatory damages for pain and suffering include both physical pain and emotional distress, including depression, fear, frustration, etc., which were caused by the injury. Loss of companionship includes compensation given to the spouse of a victim for the loss of affection, society, assistance, etc.
Personal Injury Punitive Damages
This type of compensation is actually a method of punishing the offender for the pain he or she caused the victim. Punitive damages are not always awarded, but may be given if the defendant was clearly purposeful in his or her actions against the victim.