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July 15, 2021


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Maryland’s Horrendous Law Capping Damages

In a recent blog post, I wrote about the ridiculous law in Virginia that limits the amount of money medical malpractice victims may receive for their injuries. (This law caps “damages.”) But I’ll tell you a secret about the damages caps in Virginia: in some ways, they are much fairer than they are in Maryland.

To be clear, they are not fairer in medical malpractice cases. However, in other kinds of personal injury cases–car crash cases, premises liability cases, truck collision cases, elder abuse cases, and so on–the damages caps in Virginia are significantly fairer. In fact, in some ways, the damages caps in Maryland are some of the least fair in the nation.   

Could this really be true?

Could it, considering the Maryland legislature is overwhelmingly Democratic? (There are two Democrats for every one Republican in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.)

It is true.

Individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries might find it unfortunate that they were injured if they were injured because of someone else’s negligence; they may find it especially unfortunate if they were injured in Maryland.

I’ll tell you why.

Maryland caps the amount injured plaintiffs can recover for non-economic damages. Non-economic damages cover losses like the loss of the enjoyment of life, physical pain and suffering, and mental anguish.

Maryland law caps recovery for non-economic damages to only $845,000. (The cap increases by $15,000 every year.)

Imagine: you’re driving a hatchback, you’re stopped in traffic, and suddenly you get hit from behind–obliterated–by a big SUV. You get medical treatment, of course. But after all the treatment you receive, a doctor tells you that you’ll have severe pain for the rest of your life and she recommends you use a wheelchair.

Activities you used to love, like running every morning and playing a round of golf with your friends on weekends, are now off limits to you. You feel like you’re a burden on your family. You’ll likely live another 40 years.

Now, consider someone gives you a check for $845,000 in exchange for the severe pain, the mental anguish, and the loss of your enjoyment of life. That check would, spread over 40 years, equal about $20,000 a year.

Who in their right mind would consider that amount to be fair?

Make no mistake about it: none of Maryland’s neighboring states limit non-economic damages in all personal injury cases–not DC, not Delaware, not Virginia, not New Jersey, not New York, not Pennsylvania. In fact, only 10 other states in the nation have such a cap on non-economic damages: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Tennessee.

Maryland is an outlier.

The Democratic legislature ought to end the caps on non-economic damages, bringing Maryland in line with the vast majority of states and all of its neighbors.

What Damages Are In Maryland?

In personal injury cases that start when a victim is injured by a wrongdoer who does not intend to cause injury, the victim has to establish certain things in order to get a financial recovery for his or her injuries. Let’s imagine you’re the victim here. One thing that you must establish is that the wrongdoer acted[1] in a negligent manner. Another thing you must establish is that the wrongdoer’s negligence caused your injuries. Finally, you must prove that you sustained “damages.” In past posts, we looked at how to show negligence and how to show causation. Here, let’s focus in on damages.

Damages in personal injury cases can range from a couple hundred dollars for an emergency room visit to many millions of dollars for catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities. Calculating damages can be a very complicated process, so you should seek the assistance of an attorney.

You must show that you suffered actual losses due to the accident and your injuries. Common losses include the following:

  • Past medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Loss of income or benefits
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering.

If you have suffered injury and believe another party has acted negligently, you should not delay in consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney in Maryland. Damages can be complicated and a qualified attorney will know how to sufficiently gather and present evidence of negligence in court so that you can receive the compensation you deserve.

I realize you may have questions or concerns about your matter, which occurred here in Maryland. If you have not yet started a lawsuit and are contemplating bringing one, but still have questions, call me. I can answer your legal questions and would love to talk with you. You can reach me at 410-513-9978 or by email at stefan.akorli@fintusinjuryfirm.com.

[1] Sometimes the negligent behavior is a failure to act, an omission, like a doctor failing to diagnose a condition that he or she should have diagnosed.

What Causation Is in Maryland

In personal injury cases that start when someone is injured by a wrongdoer who does not intend to cause injury, you have to establish certain things in order to get a financial recovery for your injuries. One thing that you must establish is that the wrongdoer acted in a negligent manner–and we looked at what negligence is in a past blog post. However, establishing negligence is not enough, to surprise of many people. In addition to establishing the wrongdoer was negligent, you must establish “causation” and “damages.” Here, we’ll look at causation in Maryland.

A big issue in all personal injury litigation, including the malpractice area, is the issue of causation. The heart of many personal injury cases is not what the injury is, not the amount of damage or harm, but whether the wrongdoer caused the injury or damage.

In Maryland, you must prove that the individual’s “breach of duty” was a “proximate cause” of your injury. At a minimum, as part of the proximate cause issue, you must show “causation in fact.” This means, you must show, at a minimum, that the wrongdoer’s conduct actually produced your injury.

For example, in a medical malpractice case, this might be established by asking a medical expert, among other questions, whether–under the facts of the case–the expert has an opinion if the damages or harm you suffered were caused by the acts of the wrongdoer.

The other subset of proximate cause in Maryland, sitting beside causation in fact, is “legal cause.” When it comes to legal cause, the court asks whether the wrongdoer, in light of considerations of fairness and “social policy,” should be held liable for your injury, even when you have established that the wrongdoer’s conduct produced your injury.

If you have suffered injury and believe your injury is another party’s fault, you should not delay talking with a good personal injury attorney. Negligence and related personal injury legal concepts can be complicated, and a qualified attorney will know how to sufficiently gather and present evidence of negligence so you can receive the compensation you deserve.

I realize you likely have questions or concerns about your matter that happened here in Maryland. Well, if you have not yet started a lawsuit and are contemplating bringing one, but still have questions. What I encourage you to do is pick up the phone and call me. I can answer your legal questions. This is something I do every single day, and I would love to chat with you. You can reach me at 410-513-9978 or by email at stefan.akorli@fintusinjuryfirm.com.

What Negligence Is in Maryland

Many personal injury cases start when someone is injured by a person who does not intend to cause injury. In these cases, you have to establish certain things in order to get a financial recovery for your injuries. One thing that you must establish is that the wrongdoer acted in a negligent manner. While you may have a basic understanding of the word “negligence,” perhaps you don’t realize the exact definition, in the legal context, of negligence.

It is not enough to simply state that you believe the wrongdoer acted negligently. Instead, there are specific things you must show. The first step in proving negligence is to show that the wrongdoer had a certain “duty of care.”

Duty of Care

The law imposes various duties of care on different people in different situations. Some of these duties of care are set out in past court cases while others are set forth by laws made by lawmakers in Annapolis. The following are examples of duties of care:

  • Drivers have the duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner to avoid injury to others.
  • Doctors and other professionals must act as a similar reasonable professional would in a  particular situation.
  • Mass transit providers, like train, taxis, buses, subways and other common carriers, owe their passengers the highest degree of care to provide safe means and methods of transportation for them.

Breach of Duty

Once you establish a duty of care, you then have to establish that the wrongdoer breached that duty. Examples of breach of duty include:

  • Impaired driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Fatigued driving
  • Failing to obey traffic laws and signals
  • Medical malpractice
  • Allowing hazardous conditions on a property
  • Providing inadequate security at a business
  • Selling a defective or dangerous product without warning
  • Inadequate supervision at daycare centers or schools.

You have to present evidence that the wrongdoer breached or failed to live up to their duty of care.

Once you establish a duty of care and the breach of that duty, you have established that the wrongdoer was negligent. However, this is not enough to entitle you to a financial recovery from the wrongdoer. In addition to establishing the wrongdoer was negligent, you must establish “causation” and “damages.” In many cases, but not always, once you have established causation and damages, you will be entitled to a financial recovery for the injuries you have suffered.

Of course, negligence, in the legal context, can be difficult concept to understand. If you have been injured in Maryland and believe it may have been due to someone’s negligence, you may have questions. Give me a call today, and let’s discuss your case.

How to Manage Medical Bills after a Car Crash in Maryland

If you’ve been injured in a car crash, you may instinctively seek medical attention immediately. But once you’ve received medical care, medical bills come. And, you may face the prospect of having to pay for follow-up visits, tests, medicines, and more if your injuries are serious. The pile of medical bills may be getting bigger and bigger. You may start to wonder: how do the bills get paid?

Clients sometimes believe that that their attorney will pay their medical bills until their case concludes. That belief is not a correct one. Your lawyer will keep track of all your medical bills as the case proceeds so that they can claim a proper amount of damages, but he or she won’t actually pay the bills. You are responsible for your medical expenses.

When it comes to paying your medical bills, the first place you should look should be Personal Injury Protection insurance (PIP).

PIP insurance may cover reasonable medical expenses. (PIP also may cover up to 85 percent of your lost wages and the cost of household services).

In Maryland, PIP may cover all or part of your medical bills. However, it is possible that PIP may not cover all of your medical bills. After all, there are limits to what and how much PIP will cover. For those who have PIP coverage, the minimum amount of coverage is $2,500. The maximum amount of coverage is $10,000. So, to the extent your medical bills exceed $10,000, PIP will not cover them. Further, if you waived PIP coverage, PIP will not cover any of your medical bills.

So, what do you do if and when your medical bills outstretch the limits of your PIP coverage?  You should look to your health insurance to start covering additional bills (depending on the insurance contract).

If you have no health insurance and PIP is exhausted, your attorney will usually be able to help you find funding to pay medical bills.

It is worth noting that, if the other driver was clearly negligent, their insurance company will likely be responsible for paying your medical costs. The insurance company may even offer you money early in the process, before you fully recover. It is rarely wise to accept this offer.

Insurance can be confusing. A typical car accident will most likely involve four or more types of insurance from multiple different companies. Hiring an attorney can be useful in helping you to wisely use the insurance at your disposal. If you’ve been in an auto accident caused by someone else’s negligence, call my office today at 1-888-542-4743.

Not Knowing What a Brain Injury Looks Like May Make You Vulnerable

If you don’t know what a brain injury looks like and you have suffered one, then you may be vulnerable. Sometimes the cause of a brain injury is another person’s or a corporation’s negligence. If you have suffered a brain injury, caused by the negligence of another, and do not recognize having suffered this injury, then–due to the statute of limitations in Maryland–you may vulnerable to never receiving the monetary compensation that you deserve.

For this reason, I have listed a number of the signs that suggest a mild traumatic brain injury has occurred and signs that suggest a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury has occurred. Have a look!

Signs that a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Has Occurred

Signs that a mild traumatic brain injury has occurred include:

Physical symptoms

  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
  • A state of being dazed, confused, or disoriented
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Dizziness or loss of balance

Sensory symptoms

  • Sensory problems (such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth, or changes in the ability to smell)
  • Sensitivity to light or sound

Cognitive or mental symptoms

  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Mood changes or mood swings
  • Feeling depressed 
  • Feeling anxious.

Signs that a Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Has Occurred 

Signs that a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury has occurred include all of the symptoms above.

Additionally, signs that a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury has occurred include the following symptoms:

Physical symptoms

  • Loss of consciousness for several minutes to hours
  • Persistent headache or headache that worsens
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Loss of coordination

Cognitive or mental symptoms

  • Profound confusion
  • Agitation, combativeness, or other unusual behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma and other disorders of consciousness.