When you are injured due to someone else’s fault, you may have significant unexpected expenses and other consequences. With the help of a skilled Maryland personal injury attorney, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries and other losses. Contact the Law Office of Carroll Drake, LC at (301) 638-1280 to find out how we can help you.
What are Damages?
Damages in a personal injury claim are the measurement of losses you incur due to the actions or omissions of another person. Your losses may include monetary expenses made necessary by a situation as well as intangible consequences. Proving damages in a personal injury claim results in a monetary award for your injuries and other losses incurred.
When damages measure a specific monetary amount that you or an insurance company paid due to your injuries, they are called “economic” damages.
Common types of economic damages include:
- Past and future Medical expenses
- Mental health care expenses due to mental anguish
- Lost wages
- Future loss of earning potential
- Property damage
- Renovations to cars and your home due to disability
These damages can be easily proven with bills and receipts. They can also be projected with formulas and estimations. However, sometimes you need expert testimony to prove future expenses. You must show that it is reasonable to incur a certain amount of future costs due to the injuries you sustained.
Non-economic damages are those that do not relate to a specific monetary expense; however, they still represent your losses. Sometimes non-economic damages are directly related to or cause economic damages.
Common types of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of use of property
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of services
Intangible costs that did not necessarily cost you money are more difficult to prove. You frequently need an expert to testify about the losses associated with non-economic damages. A skilled Maryland personal injury attorney can help you gather evidence and obtain expert opinions regarding your non-economic damages so that you receive the maximum possible compensation in your case.
Punitive damages are different than economic and non-economic damages. They operate to punish the wrongdoer for his or her actions or omissions rather than to compensate you for losses. An award of punitive damages can be difficult to obtain and usually require purposeful behavior on the part of the person who caused your injuries.
According to Maryland laws and prior lawsuit rulings, the following must be established in order to obtain punitive damages:
- Punitive damages are only available in tort actions (personal injury claims are tort actions)
- The Plaintiff must specifically request punitive damages with supported facts that, if proven, would entitle them to an award
- The wrongdoer must have acted with malice (deliberate behavior with an evil or wrongful motive)
- The Plaintiff must present clear and convincing evidence of wrongdoing and malice
- There must be compensatory damages, or actual economic losses
- A jury may choose to award punitive damages, there is no right to punitive damages
- There is no statutory cap on punitive damages
Maryland Personal Injury Damages
Many states, including Maryland, have maximum amounts that may be recovered for certain types of damages. Those caps can vary depending on the type of lawsuit, number of people injured, and type of actions that resulted in injury. Md. Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code Ann. §11-109.
Your economic damages are only limited by the amount that you expend. You may recover for any expenses that are directly related to the injuries that were caused by wrongful behavior. That includes medical bills, travel associated with medical treatment, equipment needed after an accident, and any other tangible costs that can be proven with receipts and bills.
Maryland uses a graduated cap on non-economic damages. Annotated Code of Maryland §11-108. In 2016, non-economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit may be no greater than $815,000. Wrongful death cases allow for up to $1,222,500 in non-economic damages. Those amounts increase each year.
There is no cap on punitive damages; however, juries will typically assess an amount that is in line with economic and non-economic damages. If you had $100,000 in economic damages and received $200,000 in non-economic damages, you will not likely receive $1 million in punitive damages. However, if you had a large amount of economic damages and your non-economic damages were at the maximum amount, you are more likely to receive a multi-million dollar punitive recovery.
Since economic damages are based on solid evidence, they are easy to assess. However, your non-economic and punitive damages are based largely on how experts and the jury evaluates your claim. As experienced personal injury attorneys, we know how to present evidence to a jury to show that you deserve the maximum possible damages in your case.
Time Limit on Recovering Compensation
Like most states, Maryland has a time limit by which plaintiffs must file a case in personal injury cases in order to obtain damages. You must file a claim within three years of the accident, otherwise you forfeit your right to recovery. There are some exceptions where minor children are involved and where people may be unaware of injury immediately. However, courts are strict about time limits, so it is necessary to obtain the help of a knowledgeable Maryland personal injury attorney as quickly as possible once you realize you have been injured due to someone else’s behavior. Contact the Law Office of Carroll Drake, LC at (301) 638-1280 for a free consultation.