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What Is A “CAP” On Damages

DFields@fishbeinpa.com,   Medical Malpractice   Leave a Comment

When a person suffers an injury, whether from an automobile accident, medical negligence of some other injury caused by another person, they can be awarded monetary damages for their past medical expenses, past lost wages, future medical expenses and costs of care, and future lost wages. An injured individual can also be awarded damages for pain and suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of consortium, or other non-economic damages.

Maryland has long imposed a cap on non-economic damages. Maryland has two separate damage caps. One is for medical negligence cases and one is for civil lawsuits. In addition, higher caps on damages for non-economic issues are applicable for wrongful death claims involving two or more claimants and for wrongful death and survivor actions.

For non-medical malpractice claims, Individual causes of action arising between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015 are subject to a cap of $800,000.00 for non-economic damages. The cap increases $15,000.00 each year effective October 1st, therefore the cap will increase to $815,000.00 beginning October 1, 2015.

For medical malpractice claims, the cap on non-economic damages is $740,000.00 for individual claim arising between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014. This cap increases to $755,000.00 for individual claims arising effective January 1, 2015.

At first glance, these caps may seem like a lot of money and for many people who are seriously injured, the cap may result in adequate compensation to them. But for many individuals, the cap does not even begin to compensate a person for his or her non-economic damages.

Take for example, the case of the 31 year old man or woman who is rendered a quadriplegic as a result of an injury. That person may have a normal life expectancy, but will never again experience the pleasure of holding a child, playing with children or grandchildren, or even having children of their own. What if the person becomes permanently blind or deaf? What if the person is forced to endure multiple future surgeries as a result of their injuries? In cases such as these, the non-economic cap on damages cannot even begin to compensate them for the losses they have sustained regarding the enjoyment of their life. It is difficult enough to place a value on such injuries, but it should not be limited by a cap on those damages.

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