What Damages Can I Recover?
You are entitled to recover for any actual damages that were proximately caused by the wrongful conduct of the defendant. Actual damages refers to the amount of money it would take to fully compensate you and place you in the same position you would have been in had the injury never taken place. You can recover for losses such as costs of reasonable and necessary medical care, property damage, car rental expenses, costs of domestic services, and loss of earnings. The law allows compensation for future medical and care expenses that the claimant can prove will be reasonably necessary to treat the injury. The claim may include income the claimant can prove will probably be lost in the future because of the injuries. Loss of earning capacity is also allowed when the patient proves he or she is less able to earn a living as a result of the injuries
You are also entitled to noneconomic damages for physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional suffering, physical impairment, inconvenience, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium (disruption of your personal relationship with your spouse), etc. There is no definite standard of calculating reasonable compensation for these types of damages other than being just and reasonable in light of the evidence.
In certain instances, damages may be awarded to families of injured claimants for loss of care, companionship, love and affection. Family members can be compensated for the wrongful death of a loved one. These damages may include medical and burial expenses, loss of income that would have supported the family members, emotional suffering, and loss of the pleasures of the family relationship.
Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant and deter others from similar conduct. In order to recover punitive damages, a plaintiff must demonstrate "actual malice" by the defendant. This means that the injured party must show, by clear and convincing evidence, that the defendant's conduct was motivated by evil motive, intent to injure, ill will, or fraud.
Noneconomic damages (excluding punitive damages) for personal injury and wrongful death actions are capped at $590,000 and the limit is increased by $15,000 on October 1 of every year. The limitation applies in a personal injury action to each direct victim and all persons who claim injury by or through that victim. In a wrongful death action, the total recovery of all beneficiaries cannot exceed 150% of the cap. No punitive damages may be awarded in wrongful death actions. Liability of the State of Maryland is limited to $100,000 per claim and cannot include punitive damages. Liability of any local government is limited to $200,000 per claim and $500,000 per occurrence and may not include punitive damages.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.
Additional Personal Injury Articles
- I Was Injured. Can I File A Lawsuit Against The Party That Caused My Injury?
- Who Is Responsible When A Person Is Injured?
- How Do I Decide If I Need To Hire An Attorney?
- How Much Will An Attorney Cost?
- How Long Do I Have To Hire An Attorney?
- How Will My Claim Be Processed?
- How Can I Determine How Much My Claim Is Worth?