Our Blogs

Maryland Law Provides for Damage Awards for Mental Pain and Suffering

by | Jan 18, 2016

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. See 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 must show:

  • 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 it.” 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.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This