Any discussion of how much money a medical malpractice case in Maryland is worth begins with our cap on non-economic damages in malpractice. The pain and suffering cap for 2018 in Maryland medical negligence cases is $800,000. This same $800,000 cap applies to wrongful death cases where there is only one surviving family member. If there are two or more surviving family members, then the non-economic damage cap rises to $1 million.
What Maryland’s Damage Cap Means and Does Not Mean
Does Maryland’s medical malpractice cap mean that you cannot get more than $800,000 or $1 million as the maximum possible recovery in a medical malpractice case? No. What it does mean is that this is the cap limit on non-economic damages.
What are non-economic damages? These are the victim’s pain and suffering damages. Pain and suffering includes physical pain, mental anguish, pre-impact fright, humiliation, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, and loss of consortium. In a wrongful death case, pain and suffering damages include the “loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, marital care, attention, advice and counsel” that the grieving family members will endure. Even though this is the legal language a jury is given, we all know what it means. It is the horror of losing someone you love because a doctor or nurse made a mistake.
What is not included in Maryland’s malpractice damage limit is past earnings, future lost earnings, medical bills, job retraining, and ongoing care. In wrongful death cases, this can mean the victim’s future lost earnings for the rest of the victim’s life. Our largest cases are usually birth injury cases and other cases where the future ongoing care will be substantial.
The Cap Is Very Real
There are cases where the cap on non-economic damages are so unfair that it leads to results where people cannot believe that the Maryland law is what it is. Let’s say you have a child who is injured by a mistake by the doctor or nurse and will be in a wheelchair for life. Her expected career earnings likely do not change. Many victims in wheelchairs do not need ongoing care. Her economic damages are fairly limited.
So what is the maximum value of that case? If you were to assume no economic damages, the maximum value of that malpractice claim is $800,000.
This amount of compensation for such a horrific, life-altering injury is obscene. It is so insane that many people who read the first sentence of this post left this page looking for a second opinion from another malpractice lawyer on the maximum value of their case. If you are someone reading this far, please trust me that what I am telling you is accurate. No exceptions allow you to avoid Maryland’s damage cap in medical malpractice claims.
You might be asking yourself how this could be true when you have seen so many verdicts reported in the paper that are so much higher than the damage cap. First, there could be substantial economic damages, particularly if it is a birth injury case. You also have to keep in mind that jurors are not told that there is a cap on non-economic damages. So, the jury may think that they are awarding $20 million to a child who is wheelchair bound for the rest of her life. But, the reality is that the judge is bound by law to reduce that verdict to conform with the malpractice cap in Maryland. Often, the newspapers report just the verdict — because that sells papers — as opposed to the reality of what happened to the verdict after the judge granted the defendant’s post-trial motion, as she is legally obligated to do.
So What Is the Value of My Malpractice Case?
We start off with the cap on damages because the cap helps us predict the settlement value of a malpractice case. Most medical malpractice cases we handle involve severe injury or death. We handle few cases where we do not expect that if we win, the jury will award more than the cap on non-economic damages.
So the formula to determine the value of a malpractice case in Maryland in these types of cases is quite simple. It is the cap on non-economic damages plus the expected economic damages multiplied by the chances of winning the case at trial.
Let’s use an example. Let us say that a man is killed by a medical mistake. He leaves behind a wife and son. His projected future earnings are $2 million. (There are other economic damages such as loss of household services, loss of benefits, etc., that I’m leaving out for simplicity. This post explains how to maximize the value of these damages.)
The math is $2 million in non-economic damages plus $1 million in economic damages. Let’s say that this is an anesthesia error case in Baltimore City where the projected chance of success is 80%. The settlement value of that case is
The settlement value of this case is $2.4 million.
Best Path to Figure Out Settlement Value
What I recommend is looking at other cases to get a better idea of the settlement and verdict ranges of the case. We provide a ton of resources in this regard on this page. We go through the 30 or so most common malpractice cases and show verdicts and settlements that shed real light on the value of your malpractice case.
Getting an idea for the likely trial value if you are successful at trial is usually not too challenging in most malpractice cases. Again, the cap reins in some of the variability. The challenge is calculating the chances of winning on the merits of the claim at trial.
This is tough without someone who specializes in medical malpractice cases. Every malpractice case has its own unique facts. Every state’s law is different. Even within Maryland, the outcomes vary widely depending up which Maryland Circuit Court is hearing your claim. The settlement value in one Maryland county might be double what it is in another county.
Getting Help From Us
If you are victim or a lawyer and you have a medical malpractice case in Maryland, we can help you. We can help you find the correct path. Call 800-553-8082 today or get a free online case evaluation.