Serious injuries do not just affect victims financially and physically but emotionally as well. Learning the cap on non-economic damages in Maryland is important so that you can better understand the damages available to you in your case.
There are different caps on non-economic damages for different civil claims in Maryland. These limitations increase each year by $15,000. When there are multiple claimants in a wrongful death case, the cap on non-economic damages may increase. Our lawyers can help you gather evidence, file quickly, and take your case to court so that you can recover all of the non-economic damages available in your case in Maryland.
For a free case evaluation with the Maryland personal injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras, call today at (443) 424-6323.
What is a Damages Cap in Maryland?
Damage caps are established by Maryland law in order to limit the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover in a personal injury lawsuit. Every state addresses the issue of damages caps differently, with some having no caps on damages and others capping all the compensation a plaintiff might recover. In Maryland, only non-economic damages are capped. Fortunately, there is no cap on the economic damages you have sustained since these are financial losses you were required to pay out-of-pocket. The amount of the cap that applies to the non-economic damages in your case will depend on the type of personal injury lawsuit you are filing, discussed further below.
Of course, it seems unfair that your damages would be capped since they were caused through no fault of your own, and it is. Lobbyists for insurance companies and healthcare providers have fought for years to have laws passed to prevent them from having to pay out all the damages a victim is owed for their non-economic damages. The result is that victims with severe injuries are often left with less than they are entitled to. For instance, if a victim was paralyzed or suffered brain damage, they might receive the same amount of compensation as a victim that recovered fully because of Maryland’s damages cap.
Caps on Non-Economic Damages for Civil Claims in Maryland
Maryland imposes limitations on non-economic damages for certain civil claims. Fortunately, our Maryland personal injury attorneys can explain the various caps on non-economic damages so that you know what to expect in a compensation claim against a negligent party. The cap that applies to your case will depend on the specifics of your lawsuit and your reasons for bringing it. For example, the cap on non-economic damages for personal injury claims differs from the cap on medical malpractice claims.
Personal Injury Cases
In regular personal injury claims in Maryland, there is a limitation on the non-economic damages victims can recover. According to Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., § 11-108(b), the current cap on compensation for pain and suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of consortium, or other nonpecuniary injuries is $920,000.
This cap increases by $15,000 on October 1st of each year to account for inflation and other changes. This means that the limit on non-economic damages for personal injury victims in Maryland changes annually. To stay updated on the current limitations and how they might impact your case, reach out to our Germantown personal injury lawyers for clarification.
This limitation applies to virtually all personal injury claims, including cases arising from car accidents, workplace accidents, slip and fall accidents, and other incidents caused by a negligent party in Maryland.
Wrongful Death Cases
Maryland imposes a cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death claims. The current cap on compensation for mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, and loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, care, marital care, parental care, filial care, attention, advice, counsel, training, guidance, or education is $920,000 in wrongful death lawsuits with one claimant. The cap on these cases increases by $15,000 on October 1st of each year.
The cap on non-economic damages is higher for wrongful death claims with two or more claimants or beneficiaries. Currently, the cap on these lawsuits is 150% of the cap on wrongful death claims with one claimant, or $1,380,000, according to Md. Code, Crts. Jud. Proc. Art., § 11-108(b)(3)(ii).
This limitation applies to most negligence-related wrongful death cases, excluding medical malpractice. This means if your loved one died in a car accident, workplace accident, slip and fall accident, or other accident, and you are eligible to file a lawsuit in Maryland, you might be able to recover $920,000, or $1,3800 if there is at least one other beneficiary.
The limitation on non-economic damages for survival actions, or claims certain plaintiffs can bring to recover compensation for a victim’s losses due to a defendant before their wrongful death, is the same as the limit in regular wrongful death claims. That means Maryland’s cap on non-economic damages for survival actions is currently $920,000. However, our Baltimore personal injury lawyers can help you bring a combined wrongful death and survival action against a negligent party, which may result in up to $2,300,000 in non-economic damages.
Medical Malpractice Cases
Regarding medical malpractice claims, there is a specific limitation on the non-economic damages victims can recover in Maryland. Currently, the limit on non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims with one claimant involving injury or death is $875,000, according to Md. Code, Crts. Jud. Proc. Art., § 3-2A-09.
In a medical malpractice claim involving wrongful death with two or more claimants or beneficiaries, the limit is 125% of the normal cap, or $1,093,750. The limit on non-economic damages for victims in medical malpractice lawsuits increases by $15,000 on January 1st of each year.
Is There a Cap on Pain and Suffering Damages in Maryland?
During your research or while speaking with others, you might have heard the term “pain and suffering” damages and wonder if these damages are also capped. There is often confusion over this issue since the term “pain and suffering” is used interchangeably with non-economic damages. However, “pain and suffering” and “non-economic damages” are, in fact, the same thing. So, if you come across information referring to pain and suffering, it is actually talking about non-economic damages, and the same caps listed above will apply.
Types of Non-Economic Damages You Can Recover in Maryland
You can claim numerous types of non-economic damages in a Maryland personal injury case. These damages are subjective in nature and can be hard to quantify. Your non-economic damages will be added up to determine whether they will be subject to the caps listed above. The following are the most common types of non-economic damages that you can claim in a personal injury lawsuit:
Physical Pain and suffering
This is a broad category that includes physical pain caused by injuries such as broken bones, scarring, and permanent disability. The amount you recover for your physical pain and suffering will depend on the severity of your injuries, your age, and many other factors.
Mental anguish damages are intended to compensate an individual for emotional distress resulting from an injury caused by negligence or intentional conduct. Mental anguish relates more to the shock, fear, or stress caused by an accident. Emotional distress can be caused by many things, including negligent carelessness, reckless conduct, and physical assault or battery. While these damages can be challenging to prove, your injuries might be such that mental anguish and emotional distress are expected but could also be shown with therapy records, prescriptions for psychological medications, and private journal entries.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium refers to lost companionship or intimacy due to an injury suffered in an accident. Other types of losses include the loss of parental guidance, caretaking duties, and other activities that spouses do together before one is injured in an accident.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Loss of enjoyment of life damages are awarded when a person has been injured and is unable to enjoy life as they did before the accident. For example, if an accident has left you unable to play sports or go to parties with your friends, you could be entitled to recover damages for these alterations in your lifestyle. This can be assessed by looking at what activities they enjoyed before and after the accident and comparing those activities.
Humiliation and Embarrassment
These forms of non-economic damages are specifically intended to cover injuries that might be too embarrassing or humiliating for the injured person to discuss with others. For example, if you suffered severe burn injuries in your accident, you might have been too embarrassed to leave your house, pursue a romantic relationship, or lose out on many other activities you would have participated in if not for the embarrassment you felt because of your injuries. The emotional distress caused by this type of injury is considered a form of non-economic loss because it affects your ability to earn money and enjoy a full life.
You can also claim compensation for depression as part of your non-economic damages. Depression is when a person loses interest in activities they used to enjoy, has trouble sleeping and concentrating, or experiences feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and worthlessness. These feelings are natural and perfectly normal for a victim to feel after suffering a personal injury. Depression is an emotional response to an event that significantly alters the course of one’s life and is common when there is the wrongful death of a loved one or a serious injury that prevents you from living the life you did before getting injured.
Anxiety is another common side effect of sustaining a personal injury in Maryland. Anxiety can be characterized by feelings of fear, apprehension, or dread. For example, if someone rear-ends your vehicle and causes you to suffer injuries, this could cause anxiety about driving again or even anxiety about leaving your home alone because you are afraid that something similar might happen again. Anxiety also commonly manifests in physical symptoms that can greatly impact a person’s quality of life, including shortness of breath, chest pains, excessive sweating, dizziness, and countless others. Compensation for anxiety is typically determined by its severity in addition to how long it lasts for the victim after the accident occurred.
How Can You Recover the Greatest Non-Economic Damages in Your Maryland Lawsuit?
Recovering up to the limit on non-economic damages in a lawsuit against a negligent party is important, especially if you have experienced significant pain and suffering due to an accident. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies that can be used to maximize your non-economic damages.
In order to recover the most non-economic damages available in your lawsuit against a negligent party in Maryland, it is important to gather evidence. Providing proof of damages for pain and suffering can be challenging, as these damages have no inherent monetary value. In order to provide proof of damages, our attorneys may ask that you keep a journal or seek help from a therapist after an accident. In doing so, you can more easily demonstrate how a defendant’s actions have harmed your quality of life, resulting in greater non-economic damages in Maryland.
The strict limit on non-economic damages for civil claims in Maryland means that victims should act quickly after an accident. The longer you wait to sue a negligent party, the more it may seem that the emotional challenges you have experienced are insignificant and do not deserve considerable non-economic damages. Our Ocean City personal injury attorneys can help you file well within the statute of limitations, which may vary depending on your case so that does not happen.
Go to Trial
Generally, the best way to recover sufficient compensation for non-economic damages is by going to trial. Defendants rarely offer non-economic damages in a settlement. Even if they do, it is unlikely to be the maximum amount victims can recover for their specific case. In that event, we can help you take your case to court so that you recover the non-economic damages you deserve.
Our Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
For a free case evaluation with our Aberdeen personal injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras, call today at (443) 424-6323.