By: Allan M. Siegel
If you suffered an injury in Maryland because of someone else’s careless
behavior, the law provides you with the right to recover for the mental
suffering caused by the injuries. To be successful on a claim for mental
anguish in Maryland, courts will usually examine whether the injured victim
sought medical treatment and the physical manifestations of the injury.
In 1998, Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals (the second highest
court in the state) held that a plaintiff could be compensated for fatigue,
sleeplessness, and mood changes he suffered after being misdiagnosed with cancer.
Hunt v. Mercy Med. Ctr., 121 Md. App. 516 (1998). In other words, because the plaintiff had physical
manifestations of his mental suffering, that anguish was compensable under
the law. However, the physical manifestations likely have to be serious
in order to qualify for damage awards. In
Butler v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., a federal court in Maryland held that headaches, stress, and anxiety
were not enough to constitute an adequate injury claim.
For certain legal claims, however, you do not need to demonstrate objectively
measurable physical injuries to recover for mental suffering. Intentional
torts are the category of wrongdoing recognized by the civil justice system
caused by intentional – not just careless or negligent – acts
by the wrongdoer. Intentional torts include claims based on assault, battery,
false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In cases of intentional infliction of emotional distress, an injured victim
- The conduct was intentional or reckless;
- Conduct was extreme and outrageous;
- The wrongful conduct caused the emotional distress; and
The emotional distress was severe.
See Harris v. Jones, 281 Md. 560 (1977).
A 1985 case defined “severe emotional distress” as emotional
suffering of “such substantial quantity or enduring quality that
no reasonable man in a civilized society should be expected to endure
See Gallagher v. Bituminous Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 303 Md. 201. Clearly, this will be a determination that depends on the
particular facts of a case. Maryland, unlike the District of Columbia,
does not recognize negligent infliction of emotional distress as a viable claim.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our team of tried and
tested attorneys continuously monitor legal developments and employ cutting
edge strategies aimed to secure the highest possible damage award for
our clients. We analyze a case from all angles and sometimes that includes
adding a claim for mental anguish and suffering, which sadly is often
the result of a catastrophic injury.
Contact us today if you have questions about your case and rights.