By: Matthew Tievsky
personal injury lawsuit, you may recover “economic damages” as well as “noneconomic
damages.” Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, and
other forms of lost money. Noneconomic damages are everything else –
the intangible injuries and damages that you can suffer from an injury
such as pain, inconvenience, humiliation, and disfigurement.
Unfortunately, Maryland’s legislature has enacted a “cap”
on noneconomic damages that applies to every personal injury case, based
on the belief that juries supposedly cannot be trusted to assess noneconomic
damages themselves. The cap, which changes from year to year, is $845,000
in 2018 (at least in cases where the victim survives). This means that
if you are permanently and terribly injured, such as by being paralyzed
for life, you can recover your medical bills, but you cannot recover the
full amount of noneconomic damages that you have suffered through your
loss of mobility and freedom (which we’d suggest is worth a lot
more than $845,000).
In the recent case of
Rodriguez v. Cooper, the Maryland Court of Appeals (the state’s high court) made clear
that Maryland’s cap applies to all sorts of personal injury cases
– not just cases that charge the wrongdoer with negligence (such
as the usual automobile collision case), but also cases that charge the
gross negligence (negligence so egregious that it amounts to willful disregard
of danger) as well as
intentionally harming people (such as physically attacking someone). Unfortunately, rolling
back Maryland’s oppressive cap on noneconomic damages will likely
require action by voters, to compel the legislature to change the law.
Fortunately, the neighboring jurisdictions of the District of Columbia
and Virginia are not as harsh. The District has no caps on noneconomic
damages. Virginia does, but only as applied to medical malpractice cases.
Therefore, at least in most cases, someone who is injured by a wrongdoer
in these jurisdictions can recover full compensation for their suffering.
Furthermore, even in a Maryland case, a skilled lawyer may be able to
help you work around the cap on noneconomic damages, by building a case
that you have suffered substantial
economic damages – not just your past medical bills and lost wages, but also
losses such as
future medical care and loss of earning capacity.
If you have been injured by a wrongdoer and feel that you are entitled
to significant compensation for your harms and losses, you should
contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel,
P.C., for a free consultation.