Maryland Auto Accident Damages: What Might You Be Entitled To?
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Compensation in Maryland auto accident cases can be classified as either economic or non-economic – and the latter is subject to caps according to Maryland state law. So, if you’ve been in a Maryland car accident, what damages might you be entitled to? Our legal expert provided answers.
Maryland has a cap on non-economic damages, according to Doug Stevens, a Maryland attorney who has practiced law for 30 years and whose firm focuses on personal injury and car accident matters in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. He explained, “For claims of pain and suffering, also called non-economic damages, the current cap is $710,000. It adjusts up each year. In the event there was a death, a single wrongful death beneficiary can receive $650,000 for a non-economic loss.”
The cap [on non-economic damages] makes the case where you have economic damages that much more important, says Stevens. “Economic damages, as you know, are the damages that are not pain and suffering. They’re damages that reflect past or future out of pocket expenses and there are no caps on economic damages in Maryland.” He explained how these work:
For instance, let’s say your client is a surgeon who’s making $425,000 a year and because of the defendant’s negligence, he can no longer pursue that profession. If he has an expected remaining work life of 10 years, then that allows you to tell the jury that the law requires them to pay the plaintiff $4,250,000 if they find for him. This amount would not be subject to the cap.
While economic damages include lost wages and other big things of that nature, Stevens says that they also include incidental things that many people wouldn’t consider – like gas money, taxi fare and baby sitter costs while visiting the doctor. He explained:
We recently had $85 added to a total loss settlement for a car to account for the full tank of gas that was left unused in the totaled car. Many people don’t understand that the law also requires inconvenience to be considered as part of a damages award. Inconvenience can be a significant factor, although defense lawyers traditionally try to pretend it doesn’t mean anything.
If you were supposed to go to your sister-in-law’s 20th wedding anniversary and you were unable to go and had to forfeit your plane tickets, that is an inconvenience and the jury is allowed to consider it. Hopefully, no juror would consider it a benefit!
Stevens says that inconvenience goes much further. For example, it could also include standing in line at the rental car company or at the body shop, making telephone calls, hiring a baby sitter or having to pay for shelter and food because you are stranded out of town.
Contacting an experienced Maryland car accident attorney will be able evaluate your situation and discuss what options might be best for you.