Car accidents can be a very scary experience, leaving you not only with physical injuries but also emotional distress that could last for months or years. Unfortunately, getting reimbursed for your pain and suffering is not always as easy as it should be. While some minor accidents may be handled through insurance, you will usually need to retain a personal injury lawyer to file a lawsuit, or at least threaten to do so, in order to collect the maximum amount of damages.
At the Rice, Murtha & Psoras, our skilled Baltimore car accident attorneys have years of experience working to get the best possible settlements for our clients who have been the victims of negligent drivers. We will leave no stone unturned fighting for you to be made whole for your injuries, including mental distress. Below, our experienced attorneys explain how a personal injury lawsuit works after a car accident and how damages, including pain and suffering damages, are calculated.
How Does a Car Accident Lawsuit Work in Maryland?
At the scene of the accident, you should be sure anyone who needs medical attention gets it. Even if your injuries are minor, get them checked by a medical professional so there is a record of your suffering. Be sure to cooperate with the police and give them a full and detailed account of the accident, and take your own pictures and videos of the scene and the damage that can be used in as evidence in a lawsuit.
After reporting the accident to your insurance company, your first call should be to an experienced Maryland car accident lawyer like those at the Rice, Murtha & Psoras. We can try to work out a settlement offer with the insurance company and assess whether a lawsuit should be filed in your case. If we file a lawsuit, it will be based in the concept of negligence. We will need to prove four things to show that the other driver was negligent: that they had a duty, that they breached that duty, that this breach caused the accident, and that damages resulted.
In the context of driving a vehicle on the roads of the state of Maryland, all drivers have a duty to follow all state and federal traffic laws and the rules of the road. You can breach this duty by committing a traffic violation like running a red light or making an illegal turn. For the purposes of an example, say the driver who crashed into you has been driving over the speed limit, rendering them unable to stop in time to avoid the accident. Your lawyer will work to prove that this breach, driving over the speed limit, was the cause of the accident and the injuries and property damage that came along with it.
If an individual is killed as a result of a car accident, their estate or certain close relatives, such as parents, children, and spouses, can file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death case is litigated similarly to a regular negligence case. However, damages can be different, and can include future earnings over the individual’s projected lifetime if they were a source of income for your family.
Suing for Pain and Suffering in Maryland Car Accident Cases
The amount of damages awarded in a Maryland car accident case will vary depending on the nature and severity of the injuries and damage involved. Damages that are commonly claimed after car accidents are hospital and surgery bills, other medical costs, including the cost of physical therapy, loss of earnings during any time the injury forced you out of work, and the cost of any medical treatments reasonably likely to be needed in the future. If your vehicle is damaged, you can also claim the cost of repairing it, or replacing it if it is too damaged to be restored to its prior state.
Non-economic damages, which are based on less tangible injuries and are less easily calculated, are typically known under the umbrella term “pain and suffering” damages. They are determined on an individual basis, depending on the context surrounding the incident and the victim’s background. This means that two people injured in the exact same manner may be entitled to different amounts of pain and suffering damages based on the particulars of each of their situations.
Pain and suffering damages can include mental health and well-being, past and future pain and anguish, humiliation or embarrassment associated with disfigurement such as scars, inconvenience, loss of consortium, physical impairment, and many other things. There is no set formula that the jury is given to calculate these damages. They are simply told to render a fair verdict in light of the facts of the situation. Similarly, settlement offers are typically made based on an imperfect calculation of the amount the jury is most likely to award.
The only limit on the amount a jury can award for pain and suffering is Maryland’s cap on pain and suffering damages. For non-death cases, the cap is $875,000 and in wrongful death cases, the cap is $1,312,500. Finally, because Maryland follows a doctrine known as “pure contributory negligence,” if the jury determines you were also at fault in the accident, you cannot recover a single dime from the defendant. It does not matter how slight your fault in the accident is. Our skilled personal injury lawyers at the Rice, Murtha & Psoras will work to show the jury that all of the fault in the matter lies with defendant so that you can receive the compensation to which you are entitled.
Call Our Experienced Maryland Car Accident Lawyers Today About Suing for Pain and Suffering
Being the victim of a serious car accident can be a terrifying and emotionally scarring experience. However, you need to act as quickly as possible after the accident to preserve evidence and retain an attorney if you want to be fully compensated for the damage you endured. At the Rice, Murtha & Psoras, our Baltimore personal injury attorneys have years of experience working across the state to prove negligence and win big settlements and verdicts for our clients. For a free consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.