As part of the damages in your injury case, you might try to claim compensation for damages you will face in the future. Many injuries involve ongoing care needs and lost wages that should be covered on an ongoing basis. But calculating future damages is often complex.
Generally, medical expenses for future costs can be projected by looking at the current cost of services and estimating how often future care will be needed, then multiplying those two numbers. When estimating future lost wages, you will often use the victim’s average weekly wages. However, future lost wages would also depend on potential raises and promotions, which should also be accounted for. Moreover, estimations about inflation and increased costs of services should also be taken into account.
To get help with your injury case, call our Maryland personal injury attorneys today at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.
Can You Claim Future Damages for Injuries in Maryland?
Some states actually bar injury victims from claiming damages for future injuries. In those states, it might be better to wait as long as you can to file your case so that you have already reached your maximum recovery before you claim damages. Fortunately, Maryland does indeed allow victims to claim future damages, but there are some important points to understand about these damages.
Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., § 11-109 explicitly authorizes economic damages to include “future medical expenses” and “future loss of earnings” as part of the damage award in your injury case. When these damages are awarded, the jury (or judge in the case of a bench trial) has to actually itemize damages to show which amounts are for past medical bills, past lost wages, future medical bills, future lost wages, non-economic damages, and “other damages.”
Calculating Future Medical Expenses in a Maryland Personal Injury Case
Our Maryland personal injury lawyers know that medical expenses can be so overwhelming that many injury cases are impossible for victims to pay for. When a defendant or their insurance company is ordered to pay for your medical care, it must include coverage for any future damages that you will face or else you would be short-changed.
Calculating future medical expenses is somewhat straightforward in that many injuries have a known treatment plan that helps you account for the services you will need going forward. For example, if you suffered a traumatic brain injury and need ongoing home nursing care, we can calculate how much that care will cost and multiply it by the number of years you will need it for.
Other injuries are less certain. For example, if you suffered a back injury, back injuries often deteriorate over time and result in unpredictable treatment needs. You might need surgery in 10 years, physical therapy in 5 – or you might be okay for the next 15 years. It is often hard to tell, and medical experts are usually needed to supply their best assessments of your care needs.
There is also a bit of actuarial science involved in these predictions, which we need experts to help with. If you need ongoing care for the rest of your life, there will need to be an educated, evidence-based assessment of how many years you will live from this point forward to calculate those damages.
Calculating Future Lost Wages in a Maryland Personal Injury Case
Similar actuarial assessments are used in calculating future lost wages – and these calculations are often more complex. First, we need to look at how much you can work after the accident and compare your pre-injury wages to your post-injury wages to come up with the difference. Then, we will multiply this by how much longer you will work for.
This will, again, require an actuarial assessment of how many more working years you have left in you, given the effects of the injury. In addition, there will need to be assessments made regarding your career path, including the potential for future promotions or raises that you will now miss out on.
In any case, an experienced Bel Air, MD personal injury attorney will often need to consult with financial experts to have proper estimates and projections made to calculate these damages.
How Are Future Damages Paid in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Maryland?
Future damages can be paid either as a lump sum or as part of an ongoing payment plan. Both are valid options, but which option you choose might depend heavily on whether the defendant and their insurance company can actually afford to pay up front or has to pay periodically going forward.
Getting all of the damages for these amounts up front in one lump sum can be beneficial for a few reasons. First, you have the money now and do not need to worry about trying to collect payments down the road if the defendant stops paying. Second, you can invest the money now to potentially grow the funds over time and provide yourself with additional financial benefits. However, many lump sum payments are adjusted downward to reflect this concept, known as the “time value of money.” That is, for example, that $10,000 today will be worth more than $10,000 in 10 years due to inflation – especially if you invest the funds today and grow them over the next 10 years.
Getting money in an installment or periodic payment plan can help you avoid needing to plan or invest the money. However, it generally benefits the defendant more than the victim to pay money this way as they can invest what they would have paid in a lump sum and pay your annuity out of those growing funds. Being trapped in an annuity is also less flexible if surprise costs arise.
There is usually no way to adjust these damages after the court ruling is made and damages are paid. If your calculation was low, you could end up short on funds through either type of payment.
If the victim dies before the last payments are made, those payments go into the plaintiff’s estate instead. This can happen for natural causes or other causes unrelated to the injury.
Call Our Personal Injury Attorneys in Maryland Today
For help with your injury case, call (410) 694-7291 for a free case review with Rice, Murtha & Psoras’ Baltimore personal injury lawyers.