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.