A personal injury includes physical and emotional injuries caused by another party. Personal injury claims are demands by injured parties for compensation of damages under tort law.
A tort is conduct that results in harm or injury to another person. It is a civil matter that the courts can resolve. The courts may impose liability on the party who caused the injury.
Continue reading to learn more about personal injury cases, how to prove your case, and the damages you may recover.
What Are Some Examples of Personal Injury Cases?
Personal injury cases include a wide variety of incidents and accidents that lead to wrongful death and injuries.
Examples of personal injury cases include, but are not limited to:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall accidents
- Product liability claims
- Dog bites
- Boating accidents
- Construction accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Premises liability claims
If you or a family member sustained an injury caused by another party, contact a Baltimore personal injury lawyer to schedule a free consultation.
What Are the Elements of a Personal Injury Case?
Many personal injury cases are based on negligence claims. A few types of cases may involve strict liability or intentional torts.
Personal injuries due to someone else’s negligence require that the injured party prove the four elements of a personal injury claim for negligence:
1. Duty of Care
The party who caused the injury must have owed the injured party a legal duty of care. The duty of care requires that the responsible party take reasonable steps to avoid causing injury or harm to another person.
For example, drivers have a duty of care to follow Maryland traffic laws to avoid causing a car accident. Likewise, a property owner owes a duty of care to guests and invitees to maintain safe premises.
A duty of care and the level of care required is based on the relationship between the parties in injury cases.
2. Breach of Duty
A party breaches the duty of care when their conduct fails to meet the reasonable person standard. A jury decides what a person of ordinary prudence would have done given the facts of the case. If the defendant’s conduct fell short, the defendant breached the duty of care.
For example, a driver texts while driving. Jurors may decide a reasonable person would know that texting while driving is dangerous. Therefore, they may find that the driver breached the duty of care by doing so and causing an auto accident.
The at-fault party’s conduct must have been the direct and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. In other words, the breach of duty was why they were injured. If not for the breach of conduct, the plaintiff would not have suffered harm.
The breach of duty must have caused damages. Damages may include economic and non-economic damages.
Deadlines for Filing Personal Injury Cases in Maryland
Maryland’s statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is three years from the date of the injury or harm. However, the deadline for filing medical malpractice claims is the earlier of five years from the injury date or three years from the date the injury was discovered.
There are exceptions to the deadlines for filing personal injury claims. For example, the deadline for government claims is very short. You have just one year to submit a claim under the Maryland Tort Claims Act.
It is best to speak with a Baltimore personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident or injury. An attorney will determine the deadline for your claim so you don’t miss it and give up your right to pursue legal action.
Caps on Damages for Maryland Personal Injury Claims
Caps are limits on the amount of money you can receive for a personal injury claim. Economic damages represent the financial losses due to injuries sustained because of another party. There is no cap on economic damages.
However, Maryland does cap the amount of non-economic damages you can receive. The cap slightly increases each year. There is a different cap for personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice claims.
Punitive damages “punish” a defendant for acting with actual malice to injure someone. Because it is difficult to prove actual malice, punitive damages are rarely awarded in Maryland personal injury cases.
Maryland’s Contributory Fault Law
Maryland is only one of four states and the District of Columbia that uses contributory negligence for personal injury claims. Under contributory fault, an injured party cannot recover any compensation for damages if they contributed to the cause of their injury.
For example, you sustain injuries due to a car accident. You file a personal injury claim against the other driver. However, a jury finds that you were 5% at fault for the cause of the car accident.
Because you were partially to blame for the cause of the car wreck, you cannot recover any money for damages. It would not matter if you were 1% at fault and the other driver was 99% at fault – any degree of fault bars you from recovery in Maryland.
Damages You Can Recover for a Personal Injury Case in Maryland
Most personal injury claims include a demand for economic damages.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Past and future medical bills and cost of treatment
- Loss of income and benefits
- Out-of-pocket expenses and costs
- A decrease in future earning potential and future lost wages
- Cost of long-term nursing care and/or personal care
You are also entitled to receive compensation for your non-economic damages. These damages represent the pain and suffering you experienced from the accident, injuries, and recovery.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Emotional distress and suffering
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish and trauma
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent disabilities and impairments
- A decrease in your quality of life
The value of a personal injury claim depends on the circumstances of your case. Generally, as the severity of your injury increases, the value of your damages increases. It costs more to treat traumatic injuries, and permanent impairments result in future losses.
Should I Accept an Insurance Settlement for My Personal Injury Case?
The insurance company for the other party may try to settle your personal injury case. The claims adjuster may tell you that you do not need an injury lawyer. However, you have the right to legal counsel.
Insurance companies undervalue claims to save money. As a result, the initial settlement offer is often much lower than the value of the claim. However, if you accept the offer, you cannot demand more money even if you discover you have additional damages.
Therefore, it is best to seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer before accepting an insurance settlement agreement. An attorney will provide an honest assessment of your claim so you can decide what is in your best interest instead of accepting a settlement offer that is in the insurance company’s best interest.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer
An accident or injury can be devastating. You and your family may be overwhelmed. An experienced legal team can handle all aspects of your personal injury case so you can focus on your recovery.
Contact a Baltimore personal injury attorney to schedule a free consultation.