In an injury case, the amount of money you demand will often be a starting point for how much money you actually get in a settlement. Insurance companies and defendants often aim lower than your initial demand when settling cases, so it is important to start high. But how high can you go when demanding damages for a car accident case?
You can truly ask for as much money as you want in a car accident settlement, but you are not always likely to get that much. Instead, it is better to keep your claim for damages tied to what the evidence shows. This means asking for the proper amount to cover your medical bills, your lost wages, and any other damages you faced in the accident. There are also damage caps to consider that will ultimately block how much courts can award and how much insurance companies are willing to settle for.
Contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras’ Maryland car accident lawyers at (410) 694-7291 if you were injured in a crash.
Is There an Upper Limit on Demands for Settlements in Maryland Car Crashes?
Generally speaking, you can demand as much money as you want in an injury case, especially before the case gets to court. If you want to claim a million dollars or more in your injury case, there is no law explicitly preventing you from doing so, but most insurance companies will look skeptically at overly high damage demands even when they are actually justified.
It is important to have an Aberdeen car accident lawyer review your case and determine how much your injury claim is actually worth before filing an insurance claim or issuing a demand letter to the defendant and their insurance company. Your injury case could actually be worth more than you might think – and in some cases, a claim of a million dollars will actually be low.
Calculating Damages for a Car Accident Settlement in Maryland
When you make a claim for damages, it should include coverage for all of the damages related to your accident. That means the simple things like vehicle damage and the cost of vehicle repairs or a replacement vehicle should definitely be included. It also means asking for enough money to cover medical bills, wages you lost because of your injuries, and any other economic damages related to your accident. It should also include damages for pain and suffering.
Economic damages should be claimed for any and all medical expenses, counseling costs, therapy costs, and other treatment expenses related to your injury. That means the cost of X-rays, emergency medical transportation, and follow-up appointments should be included along with any costs for hospital stays and surgeries. You should also claim compensation for any future expenses, which can be difficult to project the cost of.
Loss of Wages
You should also claim compensation for any present and past lost wages. Calculating lost wages you have experienced so far can be as simple as multiplying your typical wage by the amount of time you missed at work. However, projecting future lost wages can be hard, especially if your injury will keep you from getting promotions or pay raises you would have otherwise gotten over the course of your career. Calculating the fair value of these damages is often complex and requires experts to analyze the damages.
Other Economic Damages
Other economic costs and values can also be claimed as part of your case, so make sure you speak with a lawyer about how much these damages are worth to you.
You can also claim damages for the harms that you face that have no economic value attached to them. Pain and suffering is the most common area of damages people claim, which can include the cost of emotional distress, mental anguish, and other harms.
You can also claim punitive damages, but they might not be paid in a settlement – only when you go to court.
Caps on Damages Under Maryland Law for Car Accident Injuries
Maryland law places certain caps on damages. While these caps do not stop you from claiming higher damages or even stop juries from awarding higher damages, they will ultimately limit how much you can actually receive.
How Damage Caps Are Applied in Maryland
If you ask for more than these caps allow, insurance companies and defendants will be unlikely to pay the full amount. Instead, they will reduce any settlements to comply with these caps since they know you would never win more than that in court.
When a case goes to court and all the way through trial, the jury is not informed about the damage caps. This allows the victim to claim damages as high as they want, and it allows the jury to award whatever amount they find fair. However, the judge will ultimately have to amend the jury’s award down to follow these rules on caps, and the final order to pay damages will use these limitations.
In some cases, it is important to claim damages higher than the caps, especially if the jury will be on your side and you think they will award high damages. However, it is important to have a realistic idea about how much you can ultimately receive.
Maryland’s Damage Caps
Under Maryland law, damages are not capped for economic damages. This means you can (and should) be reimbursed for every penny you spent related to your injury. However, damages are capped for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
Non-economic damages are capped in most injury cases at a total of $500,000 starting in October 1994. The cap goes up $15,000 every year on October 1. This means that the cap before October 1, 2023 is $920,000 and it goes up to $935,000 for cases that take place after October 1 and into 2024.
For medical malpractice claims, the cap is lower. At the end of 2008, the cap was $650,000, and it rises by $15,000 every year at the beginning of the year. Throughout 2023, the cap is $875,000.
Damages are capped a bit differently for wrongful death cases.
In a case involving punitive damages, the damages are not capped under Maryland law, but Supreme Court cases place general reasonableness caps on these damages to prevent “excessive” punitive damages.
Call Our Maryland Car Accident Injury Attorneys Today
For help with your case, reach out to our Baltimore car accident lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras by calling (410) 694-7291.