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How Maryland Law May Reduce a Jury’s Verdict for Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice cases are a special type of personal injury claim in Maryland. There are a number of legal requirements that a plaintiff must meet that do not apply to other personal injury claims, such as auto accidents. For example, in a medical malpractice case the plaintiff must file a “Certificate of Qualified Expert” within 90 days of suing a health care provider. This certificate is basically an affidavit prepared by a qualified medical expert that explains how the defendant deviated from the accepted medical standard of care in treating you.

Judge Cuts $1.5 Million Jury Verdict to Just Over $1 Million

Another thing you need to understand about medical malpractice cases is that Maryland law “caps” the amount of damages a court may award for non-economic losses, which are commonly referred to as “pain and suffering.” The actual cap depends on the year when the malpractice occurred. For malpractice claims arising in 2022, for instance, the cap is $860,000, and it will increase another $15,000 in 2023.

Now, when a jury considers your malpractice case, they are not informed of this cap. The jury is required to determine a plaintiff’s damages without any knowledge of the law on this subject. So you may hear about larger jury verdicts being reduced by the trial judge–a process known as remittitur.

A remittitur may be ordered for other reasons as well. Take this recent decision from a federal judge here in Maryland, Sandoval v. Danilyants. This medical malpractice case involved a botched myomectomy, a surgery to remove non-cancerous growths in a patient’s uterus. The plaintiff in this case alleged the defendant physician perforated her bowel during her myomectomy procedure, which required additional surgeries to fix.

The case was tried before a federal jury applying Maryland law. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff and awarded the following damages: $529,571.04 for past medical expenses, $41,500 for past lost wages, and $928,928.96 in non-economic damages. This meant the jury’s total award was $1.5 million.

After the trial, the judge applied Maryland’s cap on non-economic damages. The plaintiff’s botched surgery took place in 2015. At that time, the statutory cap was $755,000, so the judge reduced the jury’s award accordingly.

The judge also reduced the award of past medical expenses from $529,571.04 to just $259,906.94. There were two reasons for this. First, the jury’s figure included the cost of the original myomectomy itself. But this was not a recoverable expense in a medical malpractice case, as that surgery was not the result of the defendant’s negligence.

The second issue was that the jury’s figure accounted for how much the plaintiff’s medical providers billed her for her post-malpractice case. As you probably know, the amounts stated on medical bills are often inflated and do not reflect what the patient or insurer actually pays. For that reason, the court reduced the jury’s award to account for what was actually paid by the plaintiff and her insurance company. Even with these reductions, however, the plaintiff still received over $1 million in damages.

Contact Waldorf MD Personal Injury Attorney Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions contact our office to speak to an experienced lawyer at (301) 870-1200.