Following an accident, you may not be immediately thinking about how much your injury is going to cost you or what you can do about it. Instead, you’re probably focusing on your recovery. While this is not a bad thing, it’s important to know what you will likely have to deal with the financial consequences of your injury before you have the opportunity to fully recover.
When you do start to think about the costs, it’s likely you’ll worry about your medical expenses and lost wages. While you may be able to seek compensation for those calculable amounts, you should also keep in mind you may be eligible for damages regarding your pain and suffering. These are called noneconomic damages.
Maryland, like many other U.S. states, imposes caps on the amount of damages that can be awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. These caps limit what any one person is allowed to collect after an accident. If you or a loved one have been injured or worse in an accident, you may benefit from seeking legal guidance in the event you are looking to seek noneconomic damages.
Understanding Noneconomic Damages
Before you can understand noneconomic damages, you have to understand the difference between economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages refer to amounts that can be calculated. Medicals bills and lost wages, present and future, are often included. There are no caps on economic damages; however, they are limited by their actual or estimated amount. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, refer to things like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and disfigurement.
Pain and suffering typically refer to the physical, emotional, and mental distress that comes with a traumatic accident or injury. When seeking an award for pain and suffering, both the immediate pain and future suffering can be taken into consideration.
Loss of consortium refers to the loss of benefits a family member would have provided if they had not been injured or died. This type of noneconomic damage is most often awarded in wrongful death cases.
Noneconomic damages can be difficult to estimate because they are based on injuries that are not tied to a specific dollar amount. Because of this, Maryland has caps in place that limit how much compensation a person can be eligible for.
Maryland’s Caps on Noneconomic Losses
Maryland’s caps on noneconomic damages are separated into two categories: general litigation and medical malpractice. The caps are established by Statute 3-2A-09. Below you’ll find information on the compensation limits.
General Litigation Caps
- Noneconomic damages for an event happening between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2008 may not exceed $650,000.
- Beginning January 1, 2009, the limitation on noneconomic damages increases by $15,000 at the beginning of each year.
- If the accident results in an injury, as of 2018, the maximum recovery for pain and suffering is $845,000.
- In the event of a wrongful death and two or more beneficiaries, the cap increases to $1,267,500.
- A survival claim can also be filed after the death of a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. The survival cap is $830,000.
- The maximum recovery for noneconomic pain and suffering damages in a wrongful death case is $2,112,500.
- Regardless of the figures above, the noneconomic damage cap is 150 percent of the individual cap.
Medical Malpractice Caps
- The caps for medical malpractice cases are lower than for general litigation cases.
- For 2018, up to $800,000 can be claimed for noneconomic damages related to medical malpractice.
- That cap increases to $1 million if the claim is filed by two or more surviving family members; however, the claims are limited to 125 percent of the cap on the individual claim.
- On the first of every year, the damage caps increase by $15,000.
Regardless of your accident, our Maryland trial lawyers are prepared to help you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries. Whether you were the victim of a car accident, are dealing with medical malpractice, or have simply sustained injuries as a result of another party’s negligence, we have the experience needed to represent you. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.