Cap on Noneconomic Damages in Maryland
There is a cap on noneconomic damages in Maryland. In 2021, the pain and suffering damages cap for injuries and wrongful death lawsuits in Maryland is $890,000. So if the victim is not killed, the maximum compensation for pain and suffering is $890,000.
There is no cap on economic damages or punitive damages in Maryland.
The pain and suffering cap increases the limit to $1,335,500 in wrongful death cases if there are two or more wrongful death beneficiaries.
Why do you see jury verdicts that are more than this damages cap? Again, there is no cap on economic loss which can be substantial if the victim was a high wage earner or there are significant future medical bills like our lawyers often seen in birth injury cases. Moreover, jurors are not told there is a cap on malpractice damages. So the jury reaches a verdict without ever being told that the damages they believed appropriate will later be reduced by state law.Two Damages Caps for Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The survival action cap is also $890,000. A survival action is another claim that can be brought when someone is negligently killed in Maryland.
Accordingly, as you will see in the chart below, the maximum recovery for non-economic pain and suffering damages in a wrongful death case is $2,225,000. The cap will increase slightly on October 1, 2021.
- The is a different damages cap for medical malpractice. This is the cap on medical malpractice claims in Maryland
- The difference between survival actions and wrongful death claims in Maryland
In non-malpractice civil lawsuits in Maryland, this chart shows the cap on pain and suffering damages:
|Cause of action arises on or after||Limit on all claims from same act or omission||Limit on all wrongful death claims with two or more beneficiaries||Combined Limit for Wrongful Death and Survival Action|
The first column is the pain and suffering cap in both fatality and injury death cases. So, for example, in an action for damages for personal injury or death in a non-medical malpractice case, the damages cap for pain and suffering damages is $890,000 for causes of action arising between October 1, 2020, and October 1, 2021.
The second column is the combined wrongful death maximum if there are two or more wrongful death beneficiaries. The third column is the combined number when you add in a survival action (which is explained here).
Why do we bother to list the Maryland damages cap numbers for injuries that occurred back in the '90s? Two reasons: (1) Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations may be tolled until plaintiffs know or have reason to know that they have been injured; and, more importantly, (2) minors have additional time to bring a lawsuit in Maryland.
Raise your hand if you are a little bit lost in these numbers. They are confusing. The Maryland General Assembly chose to establish a “double-cap” in survival and wrongful death claims and allow for a "cap-and-a-half" if there are two or more wrongful death claimants.
Accordingly, there are two different calculations, one for survivor lawsuits and the other for wrongful death claims. So the Maryland wrongful death cap on noneconomic damages is 150% of the cap ($1,335,000) if there are two wrongful death beneficiaries, plus the survival action cap ($890,000).
The short answer to this question is that insurance companies and hospitals have better lobbyists than victims and plaintiffs' lawyers. The worst thing is that these caps have the greatest impact on those who deserve the full measure of the jury's verdict the most. Children who lose their parents and people that are severely brain-damaged or paralyzed sometimes receive the same amount of money in pain and suffering damages as someone who eventually had a full recovery. It makes no sense.
A few years back, a bill was proposed in the Maryland House of Delegates that our lawyers were pretty excited about. If passed, the bill would have tripled the pain and suffering cap in wrongful death or catastrophic injury cases. From our firm, Laura Zois testified and so did one of Miller & Zois' clients (whose family was awarded $10 million). But the bill stalled in committee.
Caps on damages are statutory laws enacted by state legislatures that set maximum limits on the amount of money that plaintiffs can get in medical malpractice and other types of tort cases. Damage caps vary widely by state. Some states do not have damage caps at all, while others have very strict caps. Maryland has damage caps, but they only apply to pain and suffering damages.
In Maryland, there is a cap on the amount of damages a plaintiff can receive for “pain and suffering” (also known as non-economic damages). In 2021, the cap on pain and suffering damages is $890,000 for an injury case and $2,235,000 for a wrongful death case with 2 or more survivors.
This means that if the victim is not killed, the most they can recover in compensation for pain and suffering is $890,000. However, there is NO CAP in Maryland on the amount of economic damages (lost income, medical expenses, etc.) or punitive damages a plaintiff can receive.
Insurance companies, hospitals, and doctors lobbied for tort reform measures such as damages caps as a way to limit the cost of medical malpractice and other tort litigation. Unfortunately, these laws end up preventing victims from getting the full compensation that they often deserve.
A statutory cap on pain and suffering damages also generates inequitable results. A plaintiff with permanent brain damage or paralysis may end up getting the same amount of pain and suffering damages as a plaintiff who breaks a bone but makes a full recovery.
If you are a lawyer or a victim and have questions about who the Maryland damages cap applies to your case, give our lawyers a call. Our attorneys will be glad to explain this maze to you. You can reach our legal team at 800-553-8082, text us at 410-431-1484, or contact us online.Related Information
- Do Maryland Juries Know About the Cap on Pain and Suffering Damages? (why juries are kept in the dark)
- How Do Wrongful Death Claims Work?
- What Are Pain and Suffering Damages and how do juries decide how much to award a plaintiff?
- Get Help (sample pleadings, depositions, etc. in medical mistake, traffic collision, and product liability cases)
- Contact a Maryland personal injury attorney at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free consultation