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MD Senate to Review Cap for Noneconomic Damages Associated with Catastrophic Injuries

When someone has been injured by a medical professional, either due to the health care provider’s negligence or other wrongful conduct, the person has a cause of action to bring a civil case against the practitioner. In Maryland, however, there is a cap on the type of noneconomic damages, also known as “pain and suffering,” and there is a limit as to what a person may recover at the end of the suit. Maryland’s existing limit on noneconomic damages in a medical malpractice suit is capped at $650,000 for any actions that arose between the period of January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2008. The cap does increase by $15,000 every year after January 1, 2009, and as such, for the year 2016, the cap is set at $770,000. The noneconomic damages refer to any pain and suffering caused by the plaintiff as a result of the medical malpractice negligence or misconduct that occurred.

The Current Cap on Noneconomic Damages, Regardless of the Type of Injury Suffered

There is not currently a differing cap amount between noneconomic damages related to regular injuries and those related to catastrophic injuries resulting from negligence or misconduct. The fact that there is no differing cap between an injury and catastrophic injury seems harsh, especially where there is a significant difference in pain and suffering and quality of life. Some injuries can be recovered from quickly and some cause pain and suffering permanent impairment. Quality of life matters, and the Maryland legislature is in the process of deciding to what extent quality of life is affected by a temporary or insignificant injury as opposed to a catastrophic injury.

What is a Catastrophic Injury?

Catastrophic injury is defined as either death or a permanent impairment which may affect the plaintiff’s:

  • Spinal cord, associated with significant paralysis of the body, extremity, or incontinence;
  • Appendage, where the plaintiff loses effective use or the appendage is amputated;
  • Brain, where a serious brain injury results;
  • Eyes, resulting in significant blindness where corrective lenses are unable to fix the problem,
  • Reproductive organs, resulting in infertility and sterility; and
  • Overall body, where the body is affected by burns.

What are Noneconomic Damages?

Noneconomic damages can include pain and suffering, a physical impairment or disfigurement, loss of consortium with one’s spouse or partner, and any inconvenience associated with the injury. Where the action is for wrongful death, noneconomic damages may include those for personal injury as well as any mental anguish, loss of society, protection, marital, parental, or filial care, guidance, education, advice, or attention that is now lacking as a result of the death.

The Cap for Noneconomic Damages for Catastrophic Injury Bill in Maryland

A recent bill was submitted to the Maryland Senate to create a separate cap for noneconomic damages for plaintiffs who are suffering from catastrophic injuries as a result of a medical professional’s negligence or misconduct. According to the bill, the limitation associated with noneconomic damages for non-catastrophic injuries would not apply where the plaintiff is able to prove his or her injury falls under the catastrophic injury exception. Under this exception, the cap for these noneconomic damages for catastrophic injuries would be triple that for the non-catastrophic injury.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

If you or a loved one have suffered a catastrophic injury as a result of the negligence or misconduct of a medical professional, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.

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