In Maryland Lawyers Show There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Questions
Everyone has questions, especially after being injured in a Maryland accident. That’s when you can turn to the lawyers who can answer your questions. Bob Katz has posted many Frequently Asked Questions on his website. He wants Maryland and Virginia injury victims to have the facts so they can move forward with their cases, make the right decision when hiring an attorney, receive the compensation they deserve, and focus on their recovery.
The following are a selected group of questions frequently asked by injured victims seeking answers. Please note that the following materials are NOT Legal Advice or Legal Opinion - All materials provided herein are prepared for a general audience for general informational purposes only. Their sole purpose is to better educate you about a variety of general legal issues so that you become more educated consumers of legal services. Information provided on the Sites should never be a substitute for consulting with a lawyer. Please contact us directly for advice on your specific situation.
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What are the Limits on Damages in Virginia Personal Injury Cases?
Generally speaking, there are no damage caps on personal injury cases in Virginia. That essentially means that on standard claims, the amount of economic and non-economic damages is not limited by provisions of the state law. However there are exceptions depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Your attorney and the courts will notify you if these rare limitations apply in your case. In particular you should take note of two exceptions as follows:
Medical Malpractice: These damages are limited to no more than $2 million in Virginia.
Punitive Damages: These can be no more than $350,000
It is important to note that punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury claims cases. This is because the standard of proof that is required for punitive damages is so high that few claimants ever attain it. Mere negligence is not enough to obtain a punitive damages award. Rather, the claimant must prove that the defendant engaged in conduct that amounts to malice recklessness, or gross wanton negligence. For example, in a case where someone takes an action that consciously disregards the risk of harm to another human life, they may be held to have acted recklessly under the law.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit in Maryland after being injured in an accident?
Maryland Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations are procedural laws that set how long a plaintiff, or a person who is injured, has to file a lawsuit. A statute of limitations is, in essence, the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Although the statute of limitations may be different depending on the type of lawsuit that the plaintiff files, there are some common aspects to statutes of limitations, in general.
In Maryland, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases gives you three years from the date of the injury to file your complaint. If you do not comply with the statute of limitations deadline your claim will likely be barred and your case disallowed.
Typically, statutes of limitations deadlines in automobile, slip and fall, battery, and most injury claims are objective and clear. However, Maryland recognizes the “discovery rule” exception to the statute of limitations in products liability cases, fraud cases, and cases of malpractice. Under the discovery rule a statute of limitations does not begin to run until the wrongful act is noticed.
In addition, in the case of minors or incapacitated persons the statute of limitations is tolled until the child reaches the age of majority, or the in competency ends.
A statute of limitations begins to run on accrual. Accrual is when the person knows, or should know, that they have a legal claim. In most situations, this will be on the date of an accident. Think of the statute of limitations like a clock or a timer that starts to tick the day that an accident occurs. If there is fraud or a plaintiff was not aware that he or she suffered a harm, the statute of limitations may not start to run until the fraud or the harm is discovered. After the statute of limitations has expired, a lawsuit may not be filed.
For other claims, such as workers compensation claims, there may be additional time periods and procedures that apply. For example, under Maryland Workers' Compensation laws, there is a shorter statute of limitations (2 years) and the employee must comply with more stringent notice requirements by notifying the employer promptly after the accident date or occupational disease onset date is known or the claim will be similarly time-barred.
Maryland also has several different statutes of limitations, most of which are located in Title 5 of the Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article. However, most of the statutes of limitations for civil lawsuits are three years. The following types of lawsuits have a three-year statute of limitations:
- Personal Injury;
- Products Liability;
- Property Damage;
- Wrongful Death; and
- Medical Malpractice (although in some instances this can be 5 years, depending on when the injury was discovered).
Example of How Maryland Statute of Limitations Works:
For example, suppose that Peter the Plaintiff was in a car accident with Dan the Defendant on June 1, 2014 and suffered personal injuries and damage to his car. In Maryland, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is three years. Likewise, the statute of limitations for a property damage lawsuit is three years. Because Peter is aware that he was in an accident and suffered damages, Peter’s date of accrual is June 1, 2014. He may file a lawsuit to recover damages for his medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage to his car at any point on or before June 1, 2017. If Peter files a lawsuit on June 2, 2017, Dan will file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit because the statute of limitations has expired. In this situation, a Maryland court would likely agree with Dan.
As with most legal matters, limitations deadlines can sometimes be unclear. Therefore it is wise to consult with a lawyer early on after an accident, as to the facts applicable to your specific case to determine the statute of limitations in your case.
Does the Statute of Limitations Apply to My Case?
One common legal question that persons who are injured often have is “how long after the accident do I have to file a lawsuit?” In some instances, an injured plaintiff may want to file a lawsuit as soon as possible to receive financial help for their injuries. In other cases, an injured plaintiff may want to wait until they have a more complete idea of how much their lost wages, medical treatment, and/or rehabilitation will cost.
As disucssed about, the law that relates to the time period for filing a lawsuit is called a “statute of limitations.” In most cases, it is a hard deadline. However, as each case is unique, a different timeline or strategy may be warranted in your case. If you have been injured in a car crash, dog bite, slip and fall, or any other accident, you may want to contact one of our Maryland personal injury attorneys to find out what the statute of limitations is in your case and whether or not you will need to file a lawsuit to protect your rights.
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What are the compensation limits on a Maryland personal injury claim?
If you were the victim of a negligent act by a non-employer third party, it is important you know what damages you can and cannot be compensated for. Like many states, Maryland law places caps, or limits, on the amount a plaintiff can recover for non-economic damages in personal injury claims.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
In general, there are two distinct categories of damages: economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses are considered both past and future medical expenses, lost income, lost future wages and earning capacity, and other financial expenses attributed to the wrongdoer. These damages do not have a cap, or ceiling, in the State of Maryland. The only requirement is that they are substantiated at trial.
Non- economic damages include compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and the loss of enjoyment of life as a result of the negligence. These damages are more subjective, not easy to quantify, and vary from plaintiff to plaintiff.
Personal Injury Caps
At the urging of Virginia lobbyists for hospitals and the insurance industry, caps on damages were passed by the Maryland House of Delegates. The caps are modified and increased slightly from year to year to account for inflation and other factors. The Maryland statute places an $830,000 cap on non-economic damages for injuries and wrongful death cases arising in the the 2016 calendar year. The cap increases to $1,245,000 in wrongful death cases if you include the cap on survival actions. If there are two or more claimants in a wrongful death case, the cap increases to $2,075,000. Jury awards in Maryland that exceed these caps in the applicable circumstances will be reduced by the Trial Judge in a legal process known as remittur, pursuant to the laws of Maryland.
Medical Malpractice Caps
Maryland has a separate cap for non-economic damages in medical malpractice and nursing home lawsuits. The cap is at $770,000 for malpractice cases arising in 2016. The cap rises to $962,500 in wrongful death cases made by two or more family members. This cap applies to a broad definition of health care providers including, dentists, nurses, nursing home employees, and chiropractors. Again, this cap only applies to non-economic damages. There is no limit or cap on the amount that can be awarded for actual sustainable economic losses.
Can I get personal injury legal advice on the internet?
Accurate personal injury legal advice is not provided online. Not by our firm, or any other reputable firm that we know of. Our firm only provides legal advice to our actual clients. These are people we have met with in person, and discussed at length all the details of their particular situation. These are people who have hired us to represent them and with whom we have signed retainer agreements and for whom we have done our own factual and legal investigations.
Every case is unique. That means your case is too.
Any articles, blogs or discussions you read on this site are composed of generalized information or discussions about legal issues, we lawyers deal with, on a daily basis. These articles are posted as as general information for people to educate themselves about the personal injury issues that we lawyers deal with on a day to day basis.
While some of the discussions on this site may be relevant to your particular case, they are not "legal advice," and it should not be assumed they are applicable to your particular case.
The bottom line is: you should not assume anything you read on the internet is legal advice. While information may useful to you, you should not assume it is correct until you can actually speak with a lawyer.
Can a health care insurer be repaid from a personal injury settlement?
Yes, this is quite a common scenario. Most health insurance policies have "subrogation" language that allows the insurance company to be repaid for the amount paid out on medical bills if the insured person receives money as part of a personal injury settlement. Varying states have varying laws dealing with this issue. In theory, the person is not allowed to (recover twice); i.e. once from the at fault party and once from the health insurer. The law essentially holds that a tort victim is entitled to be made whole or put back to where they were before the injury. Nevertheless, in Maryland for example, a Maryland Accident Lawyer may be able to obtain a statutory reduction in the amount of your lien when you settle your case. Additionally, depending on the terms of your settlement, a lawyer may be able to, in some circumstances, negotiate with the lienholder to obtain reductions in the amount owed. As many factors go into lien reductions and each case is unique, you will need to contact a lawyer in your state to find out if you are eligible for a lien reduction.
Q: What is a lawyer "contingency fee?"
An attorney's "contingency," fee is a fee that is agreed upon prior to the commencement of the attorney’s representation of the client. Typically, these fees vary depending on the complexity of the type of claim being handled. In Maryland, for example, most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis such that the lawyer is paid contingent upon recovering money for the client. In these types of cases, lawyers are paid out of the money recovered and it usually a percentage of the total recovery.
Many lawyers advertise the phrase, "No Fee, No Recovery," however this can be misleading because prospective clients sometimes equivocate the terms "fee" and "costs." It is important to note that occasionally, a client will be responsible for litigation costs, court costs (filing fees) or other costs, medical expenses incurred, etc. regardless of whether there is a recovery or not. Therefore it is important to discuss with your lawyer whether you will be charged any of these costs, depending on the result of your case.
Depending on what type of insurance coverage’s are available for example, you may or may not be left owing medical expenses if you lose your case and this will depend uniquely on the facts specific to your particular case. You should discuss these fee items with the prospective lawyer before deciding to hire them so there are no misunderstandings down the road.
Additionally, it should also be noted that some lawyers will charge higher fees than others, so it is always a good idea to make sure you are comfortable with the amount of the fee, as well as the experience and reputation of the lawyer who will be handling your case or whatever other factors are most important to you. Sometimes, the fee being charged by the lawyer is commensurate with the difficulty or complexity of the legal matter, the amount of time it will take to handle the legal matter or the experience and reputation of the lawyer.
For further information: Wikipedia has a nice entry on contingency fees.
What can I do if I was struck as a pedestrian?
- Seek out medical care. This may seem obvious, but it is surprising the number of people who refuse to seek out medical care immediately and who think they are fine after being struck by a car. Often times, injuries can be internal and are not obvious to a layperson. Get yourself seen by experts as soon as possible to rule out more serious complications that can arise from internal bleeding and other internal injuries.
- Document Your Accident. This means carefully documenting relevant information to your claim, which may be useful later. Do get contact information from any witnesses to the accident. Do report the accident to the proper authorities. If you need help with this, please let us know. That's what we are here for.
- Speak to an attorney. This is critical so you can discuss with your attorney what kinds of problems you are having as a result of your injuries and your attorney can help you preserve your claim. Acting quickly may affect the type and amount of compensation you may be entitled to.
- Discuss Your Remedies. If you have been struck as a pedestrian and are not at fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries as well as compensation for various losses. Make sure you discuss with your attorney each of the following elements if they are applicable to your situation.
- - Medical bills you have incurred
- - Costs of presently needed medical treatment (physical therapy, chiropractic care or other forms of treatment)
- - Future Medical Treatment
- - Pain and suffering
- - Death
- - Loss of financial support
- - Loss of consortium
- - Mileage
- - Lost Wages
- - Out of Pocket Expenses
There are no hard and fast rules to determining if you have a case. Each case is unique and is dependent on the facts of the particular case. The law is a constantly changing entity and only by consulting an attorney directly, can you achieve the piece of mind that comes with knowing where you stand legally on the issues relevant to your particular case.
What kind of "Personal Injury" cases does your firm handle?
Our firm is experienced in handling a variety of "personal injury" matters throughout Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia. We regularly accept cases and represent victims who have been injured due to:
- Automobile Accidents
- Worker’s Compensation / Job Related Accidents
- Slip and Fall Injuries
- Truck Accidents
- Boating Accidents
- Fatal Accidents
- Defective Products
- Head and Brain Injury
- Catastrophic Injury
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Animal Attacks
- Wrongful Death
- Birth Injuries
- Food Poisoning
- Medical Mistakes
- Nursing Home / HMO Neglect Abuse
For over 35 years, Bob Katz has been helping victims of personal injuries obtain justice and fair compensation. We have a wide variety of attorneys who have expertise representing victims of many different kinds of personal injury accidents including but not limited to:
- Auto Defects
- Maryland and Virginia Auto Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Food Poisoning
- Intersection Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Premises Liability
- Product Defects
- Slip and Fall
- Boating Accidents
- Maryland and Virginia Bus Accidents
- Catastrophic Burns
- Untested products
- Defective Medications
- Dog Bites
- Workers Compensation
- Pharmacy Error
- Train Accidents
- Metro Accidents
- Negligent Fires
We have obtained millions of dollars for our clients in the last year alone, let alone over 35 years of practice. Our personal injury attorneys in Maryland are well aware that you and your family are counting on us. Let us help you focus on your physical recovery by working hard to ensure that you are taken care of legally and financially.
Hire an Experienced Maryland Personal Injury Attorney Today. Call Bob Katz. 1-888-540-2599
For more information or to find out if your specific injury or loss gives you standing to make a personal injury claim, please contact our office at 1-888-540-2599.