The Value of Permanent Injury Claims in Maryland
The majority of the personal injury cases our attorneys handle involve a permanent injury to the accident victim or the permanent injury of the loss of the loved one after their death.
A permanent injury is a physical or even mental injury that restricts a personal injury plaintiff's job or activities for the remainder of the plaintiff's life. The existence of a permanent injury is usually the factor that most drives the value of the claim in personal injury cases in Maryland.
In a legal system that awards compensation for the extent of the plaintiff's pain or suffering, it naturally follows that insurance adjusters, defense lawyers, judges, and juries are going to place a higher value on pain or suffering that is expected to last for the rest of the plaintiff's life. Jurors are far more moved by pain that will last forever than pain the occurred in the past.
Our accident lawyers often ask Maryland juries to award compensation for every day of the remainder of the plaintiff's life (based on the plaintiff's life expectancy). The purpose is to receive money compensation for the plaintiff who has to deal with the suffering their injuries will bring every single day for the rest of their lives (subject to the cap on non-economic damages in Maryland).
How does that work practically? Under Maryland, the CDC life tables are admissible at trial (according to Byrum v. Maryott, 26 Md. App. 130 (1975)). So you calculate how many years the victim has left and the jury puts a number on that loss for a permanent injury. The judge will use that number and plug it into the pattern jury instruction on life expectancy (Maryland Civil Pattern Jury Instruction 10:27). We have never had a problem getting life tables admitted. (We tried a case once where the judge asked us for the foundation for admitting the life tables. We had no idea. EVERY JUDGE let's you put in life tables. But we quickly did some research and found Byrum telling us what we knew that we knew.)Vocational Rehabilitation Expert
As you would expect, an injury resulting in loss of earning capacity or pain and suffering that will last in injury victim's entire life should bring about a higher damage award from a Maryland jury than an injury that is only temporary.
If you have a disability from an accident or malpractice that makes employment impossible or limits your ability to perform the job you once had, you can get compensation for this loss.
One of the challenges for our Maryland accident lawyers is to translate a permanent injury - such as the severed arm or leg, the disabling back or neck injury, or a herniated disc - into a fair dollar figure.
One way our attorneys do this is we flush out the full economic damages to the injury victim. In many of our lawyers' personal injury accident cases in Maryland, our attorneys hire a vocational rehabilitation expert to estimate the accident victim's lost wages as a result of the auto or truck accident.
Vocational rehabilitation experts design a plan for the crash victim to return to the employment market in spite of the injuries suffered. These experts calculate the cost of retraining to a new job that is best suited for the Plaintiff. The injured victim usually cannot go back to as lucrative a job as the one that he/she left (particularly if the job was physical).
So the vocational rehabilitation expert estimates what the Plaintiff would have made if the injury had never occurred and compares that amount to the expected wages to be earned in the new job (plus the cost of retraining or further education). We ask the jury to award as part of the economic damages the difference between these two amounts.Life Care Expert
Many accident victims who have suffered a catastrophic injury need what personal injury lawyers call a life care plan expert. Our lawyers see these plans most frequently in birth injury cases but they have applications in every case where the victim needs ongoing care. The International Academy of Life Care Planning defines a life care plan as, ''... a dynamic document based upon published standards of practice, comprehensive assessment, data analysis, and research, which provides an organized, concise plan for current and future needs with associated costs for individuals who have experienced catastrophic injury or have chronic health care needs."
Accordingly, a life care planning expert must coordinate with the accident victim's treating doctors to determine the injury victims future medical care and needs. Maryland personal injury attorneys representing accident victims use a life care plan to assist in compiling the economic injury to the crash victim and to articulate to the jury kind of care and the cost of that care that will be required throughout the injured victim's life.