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Damages

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Overview of the State of Maryland Court System


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Damages


A. Statuary Caps on Damages


In a personal injury action there is a limit on non-economic damages in Maryland Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. Article 11-108 the Cap increases every year. The Cap was $500,000.00 as of October of 1994 and it increases by $15,000.00 on October 1st of each year. The Cap applies to each direct victim of the tortious conduct and all persons who claim injury by or through that victim. The jury is not informed of the Cap. If the jury awards an amount for non-economic damages that exceeds the Cap then the Court should reduce the amount to conform to the limitation. In addition, medical malpractice cases has a different statutory Cap on damages. The Cap on damages for medical malpractice cases is $650,000.00 as of January 2005 to December 2008. Starting in January 2009 every January 1st this amount increases by $15,000.00. In addition there is an allowance for additional non-economic damages to be awarded in wrongful death actions. Similar to the non-economic Cap on damages and regular negligence trial, juries are not informed of the limitation. If the jury exceeds the limitation then the Court can reduce the amount to conform with the limitation. Damages for emotional distress are allowed in Maryland only when there is an intentional infliction of emotional distress. Negligent infliction of emotional distress is not enough. However if a party has physical damages then the emotional distress damages can be awarded as part of the physical injury.


B. Compensatory Damages for Bodily Injury


In an action for damages in a personal injury case, you shall consider the following:

(1) The personal injuries sustained and their extent and duration; (2) The effect such injuries have on the overall physical and mental

health and well-being of the plaintiff;

(3) The physical pain and mental anguish suffered in the past and which with reasonable probability may be expected to be experienced in the future;

(4) The disfigurement and humiliation or embarrassment associated with such disfigurement;

(5) The medical and other expenses reasonably and necessarily incurred in the past and which with reasonable probability may be expected in the future;

(6) The loss of earnings in the past and such earnings or reduction in earning capacity which with reasonable probability may be expected in the future.

In awarding damages in this case you must itemize your verdict or award to show the amount intended for:

(1) The medical expenses incurred in the past;

(2) The medical expenses reasonably probable to be incurred in the future;

(3) The loss of earnings and/or earning capacity incurred in the past; (4) The loss of earnings and/or earning capacity reasonably probable

to be expected in the future;

(5) The “Noneconomic Damages” sustained in the past and reasonably probable to be sustained in the future. All damages which you find for pain, suffering, pre-impact fright, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of consortium, or other nonpecuniary injury are “Noneconomic Damages”;

(6) Other damages.


C. Collateral Source


In arriving at the amount of damages to be awarded for past and future medical expenses and past loss of earnings, you may not reduce the amount of your award because you believe or infer that the plaintiff has received or will receive reimbursement for or payment of proven medical expenses or lost earnings from persons or entities other than the defendant, such as, for example, sick leave paid by the plaintiff’s employer or medical expenses paid by plaintiff’s health insurer.


D. Pre-Judgment/ Post judgement Interest


A jury may specify that interest may begin to run on a day prior to the judgment, but if it does not expressly do so, interest runs from the date of the judgment at the legal rate. Md. Rule 2-604. The legal interest rate is set forth by MD. CODE ANN. § 11-107. The current interest rate is ten percent.


E. Damages for Emotional Distress


Emotional distress generally cannot be awarded in negligence cases as a separate cause of action. However, if the Plaintiff in a negligence case has physical injuries, then the Plaintiff can recover for emotional damages. In determining damages you shall consider any expenses, mental pain and suffering, fright, nervousness, indignity, humiliation, embarrassment, and insult to which the plaintiff was subjected and which was a direct result of the defendant’s conduct.

In addition, the action of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress is available in Maryland. A jury may specify that interest may begin to run on a day prior to the judgment, but if it does not expressly do so, interest runs from the date of the judgment at the legal rate. Md. Rule 2-604. The legal interest rate is set forth by MD. CODE ANN. § 11-107. The current interest rate is ten percent.


F. Wrongful Death and/or Survival Action Damages


Survival Damages

1. Medical expenses and loss of earnings from the time of injury to the time of death.

2. Funeral expenses up to $5,000.

3. Non-economic damages, specifically any conscious pain, suffering or mental anguish that the deceased experienced as a result of injury until death. Note: Testimony of body sounds, i.e. moaning, gurgling and heavy breathing are not sufficient.

4. There is also a special category of non-economic damages called “pre-death fright”.

5. Punitive damages, if applicable.

Wrongful Death Damages

1. Economic/Pecuniary losses: past and future losses which are probable in the future:

2. Financial support

3. Value of housekeeping and domestic services

4. Loss of educational benefits

5. Non-Economic Damages: Generally defined as mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, marital, parental or filial care, attention, advice, counsel, training, and guidance. Note: Non-economic damages are subject to the Maryland Cap for Non-Economic damages. Moreover, non-Economic Damages are not available to all beneficiaries.


G. Punitive Damages


Punitive damages are not recoverable in Maryland under a negligence theory absent malice by clear and convincing evidence. In order to recover punitive damages, the Defendant must have committed an intentional act with actual malice. Punitive damages must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.


H. Diminution in Value of Damaged Vehicle


Damages for diminution of value are allowed to the extent explained below under Section I. Loss of Use of Motor Vehicle.


I. Loss of Use of Motor Vehicle.


In an action for recovery of damages for damaged property you shall consider the following:

a. Repairable Damages

Where the plaintiff’s damaged property can be repaired the plaintiff is entitled to recover the reasonable cost of restoring the damaged property substantially to its condition immediately before it was damaged. In addition, the plaintiff is entitled to recover for the loss of the use of the property during a reasonable period of time while it is being repaired. In those cases where the damaged property has been repaired but its fair market value nevertheless has decreased, the plaintiff may recover the difference between the fair market value of the property before the damage and after the repair.

b. Conversion, Loss or Destruction

You shall award to the plaintiff the reasonable fair market value of the property immediately before it was wrongfully taken, lost or destroyed, plus interest at the rate of (insert rate) percent a year from (insert date) until the date you return your verdict.

c. Total Loss

Where the cost of repair to the plaintiff’s damaged property is more than its fair market value, the award to the plaintiff shall be the market value of the property before it was damaged, together with loss of use, if any.

d. Loss of Use

The measure of damages for loss of use is the reasonable rental value of comparable property.


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Overview of the State of Maryland Court System

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