It is an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes, accidents happen. Usually these accidents are minor, but sometimes they can result is serious harm being caused to you or your property. If this happens, you may not be in a financial situation where you can pay for the consequences, like medical bills or repairs. When you cannot get reimbursed or are being offered a settlement from an insurance company that seems unfair, you need to seek out legal counsel to represent you and potentially file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our Baltimore personal injury lawyers have years of experience fighting for our clients to be justly compensated for their injuries. We will work to hold those who caused the accident responsible and to make you whole again as much as possible. Below, our lawyers explain the process of a personal injury suit in Maryland and then take a deep dive into the issue of pain and suffering damages, which can sometimes be an elusive concept to understand.
Filing an Insurance Claim After an Accident in Maryland
In many cases, after an accident has occurred, you will have the option to file a claim with the insurance company representing the person who caused the accident. For example, in car wreck cases, you can have your insurance company negotiate with the insurance company of the person who hit you. However, insurance companies will do everything they can to deny fault and will try to reduce your payout by as much as possible, especially for less tangible damages like pain and suffering. Before claiming through insurance, it is best to talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice about what your options are and whether a personal injury suit would lead to a greater payout for you.
How a Personal Injury Case Works in Maryland
To prove fault in a personal injury case, a lawyer must show that someone behaved negligently, and that this negligence caused you to be injured in some way. There are four things your lawyer will try to demonstrate to prove negligence: the existence of a duty, a breach of that duty, that this breach caused your injuries, and that damages resulted.
For example, say you work at a factory where dangerous chemicals are used. The federal government has issued guidelines stating that all employees must be given protective equipment to wear when they are on the factory floor. This creates a duty for your employer to provide you with protective equipment. If you can show that they breached this duty by not providing you with the equipment, and you are burned by the chemicals because of it, and this burning results in damages such as hospital bills and pain and suffering, you will have proved your case.
It is important to note that Maryland practices a doctrine knows as “pure contributory negligence.” This means that if the jury believes you were partially at fault for the accident, even in the slightest way, you will not be able to collect any damages from the defendant. For example, if you are made an illegal turn before being hit by a speeding car, this could bar you from collecting damages. Our experienced lawyers will work to place the fault squarely on the shoulders of the other driver.
Damages in a Maryland Personal Injury Case
The jury must itemize their verdict by showing how much in damages was awarded in each area, such as medical expenses, lost earnings, etc. There will be a space on the verdict sheet for pain and suffering damages labeled “noneconomic damages,” but the jury will only have to give the total number and will not have to explain how they reached it.
There are many types of damages that can be claimed in personal injury cases. First and foremost, you will be able to claim damages for medical bills, current or future, resulting from an injury caused by the defendant’s negligence. This can include hospital bills, physical therapy bills, cost of medication, and estimated cost of future care. If the injury renders you unable to work temporarily or permanently, you can claim damages for loss of earnings, past and future. If your property is damaged, you can typically claim damages for the cost of repairing or replacing it.
Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages are unique in that they are not associated with some easily calculable, tangible concept like the amount of money you owe in medical bills or loss of future earnings based on current salary projections. Instead, they are noneconomic damages that must be calculated on an individual, context-based level for each plaintiff. Even if two people are injured in the same way, one may be entitled to more pain and suffering damages than the other based on their background and other context factors.
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. An experienced personal injury lawyer like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice will work to advocate for the largest possible amount. If the case goes to trial, we will make sure that each of these items is listed on the verdict sheet so that the jurors will be primed to think about them when calculating damages. It is also worth noting that there is a cap on pain and suffering damages in Maryland: $875,000 for non-death cases, and $1,312,500 for wrongful death cases.
Call Our Skilled Maryland Personal Injury Lawyers Today
Every personal injury case must start with proving negligence. This includes showing that there are damages that resulted from the alleged negligent conduct. The amount of damages can vary wildly depending on how serious your injuries are, as well as how much the jury chooses to award in damages for less tangible injuries such as pain and suffering. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our skilled personal injury lawyers know how to make the case for you to receive the highest possible amount of damages. We will demonstrate that this incident has caused you much mental anguish beyond the physical and economic damage. For a free consultation, call our office today at (410) 694-7291.