Placing a value on a Maryland personal injury case is difficult. There are many factors to consider.
- Who is Responsible? (How Did the Injury Occur?)
How the injury occurred is very important. As Maryland is one of a few remaining states that employ a body of law known as the contributory negligence doctrine, the strength of the liability case is critical in Maryland. Generally speaking, the Plaintiff or claimant must be a victim of another’s negligence. If the victim is held to be contributory negligent in causing their own injury, they will be barred from recovering in tort in Maryland. The clearer the liability case is, the easier it will be to prevail on a claim. This often has some impact on a cases value as a more difficult case may be perceived to have a lower value due to the higher probability that the claimant will be unsuccessful in proving their claim.
The value of cases will also vary greatly based on the amount of damages suffered by the victim. Typically, all else being equal, the greater the damages suffered, the greater the value of the case will be. Given the same liability posture, a victim who suffers from a fracture or broken bone due to another’s negligence is probably likely to recover more compensation than a person who sustains a muscle sprain under the same circumstances (also known as a "soft tissue" injury).
For every rule, there is an exception. Accordingly, it cannot be emphasized enough that two identical cases are a physical impossibility of the world. Each case is unique and has unique facts, involving different people in different circumstances. Therefore, it is usually IMPOSSIBLE to determine exactly what a case is worth, especially early on in the case. As the case develops over time, it will be possible for a lawyer to give a more realistic assessment to the client as to the perceived value of the claim based on its strength and weaknesses. That being said, your lawyer may be able to analyze comparable verdicts in your jurisdiction with similar fact patterns to give you an idea of the possible outcomes.
- Too Many Variables
The law allows for compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, scarring, disfigurement, emotional distress, medical bills, loss of future earnings and other damages. Each person will have unique damages to calculate and often these damages will be "non-economic," and thus difficult to put a number on. Lawyers typically look to jury verdict histories in the counties where the injury occurred to get an idea of what a typical jury will do with a similar claim, however as each case is unique, these verdicts are not outcome determinative or ultimately predictive. A lawyer who has experience settling personal injury matters AND taking them to trial to obtain a verdict, will be able to give you an assessment as to a case's ultimate value. The variance among these factors has to be considered. For example, some cases will have strong liability but weak damages. Other cases will have high damages but weak liability. The cases with both extensive damages and egregious negligence with blameless victims will likely have the highest value.