Hurt by Malpractice or an Accident? What to Expect in P.G. County

Certainly, given their preference, plaintiffs’ lawyer will choose PG County or Baltimore City as the venue for almost any Maryland accident case.

If our case is not in Baltimore, we want to be in P.G County if I have a Maryland traffic accident case.

The difference cannot be understated.  There are other differences unrelated to the harm caused that make a difference like the type of case (e.g., auto versus malpractice), the likability of the parties, and whether the defendant is a person or a corporation or hospital.  But if you could have the same case in Prince George’s County or the Eastern Shore, there are some cases where the trial value of the claim might be worth twice as much.

Jurisdictional Differences in Value Are Not a Bad Thing

prince george's county injury casesThere is ample evidence that some jurisdictions give larger compensation awards than others.  This phenomenon is not limited to value differences we see in Baltimore and Prince George’s County in Maryland.  Every state has jurisdictional differences.  Just to our north, for example, there is a huge difference in what a Philadelphia jury would award compared to almost anywhere else in the state.

Everyone says that in a perfect world, you would get the same monetary compensation for your injuries and their sequelae regardless of what jurisdiction the injuries occurred.  I disagree.  Each community should get to decide the amount of money that fairly compensates a victim for her injuries.  The community should also be the one to set what it believes to be the appropriate safety standards for that jurisdiction.  I respect the fact that rural jurors in Maryland will make you work harder for justice.  The reality is that a good case is a good case anywhere.

Remember, there is no formula for the appropriate damages award.   A Maryland Circuit Court judge gives no instruction that allows a jury to calculate damages.  Similarly, the Restatement (Second) of Torts observes that the “discretion of the judge or jury determines the amount of recovery, the only standard being such an amount as a reasonable person would estimate as fair compensation.”  The point is there is variability depending on what is in the hearts of the juror in the jurisdiction where the case is being tried.  This is a good thing.

Why Is Prince George’s County Is a Good Jurisdiction?

I think Prince George’s County jurors are favorable to plaintiffs because they are urban, open-minded, well-educated, and they respect and follow the rules. The latter point is key. Many rule-followers also come with the baggage (I’m talking baggage from a plaintiffs’ trial lawyer’s perspective) of being predisposed against plaintiffs. Prince George’s County jurors do not come in with that mindset. This is really key in medical malpractice cases. If you show them the patient was injured or killed because the doctor did not follow an important safety rule, the jurors will look past a lot of other things that might sway a different panel of jurors.

[One thing to point out is that when we are talking about jurisdictional differences in this post, we are talking about Circuit Court jury trials.  Smaller claims under $30,000 in Maryland are usually tried in District Court.  For all the kind (read pro-plaintiff) things we have said about Baltimore City juries, the District Court judges in Baltimore toss around dimes like manhole covers and their awards are comparatively very low.]