After a medical malpractice claim has been prepared, filed, and argued in court, a jury will decide the case and award damages if the claimant is determined to have been the victim of medical malpractice. In the state of Maryland there are complex limitations on non-economic damages (emotional and physical pain and suffering) that can be awarded. The term “damages” refers to the award, usually money, that is paid out to a person as compensation, and putting a limit on them usually benefits the health care provider over the victim. Here we will look at the statute and examine how it could affect your medical malpractice claim.
How the Limit is Calculated
Non-economic damage awards to medical malpractice victims “for a cause of action arising between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2008, inclusive, may not exceed $650,000.” The statute then accounts for inflation by including a a $15,000 annual increase to the limit. This means that if your medical malpractice injury occurred this year, a successful claim would have a non-economic damage limit of $785,000. There is no limitation on damages awarded for past and or future economic losses such as past and or future medical expenses or lost wages.
Two or More Claimants in a Wrongful Death Action
While the statute may seem mostly straightforward, things begin to become complicated in cases where there are multiple claimants in a wrongful death case. The statute states:
(ii) If there is a wrongful death action in which there are two or more claimants or beneficiaries, whether or not there is a personal injury action arising from the same medical injury, the total amount awarded for noneconomic damages for all actions may not exceed 125% of the limitation established under paragraph (1) of this subsection, regardless of the number of claims, claimants, plaintiffs, beneficiaries, or defendants.
Reduction of Awards Over Limit
During a jury trial for medical malpractice the jury is not allowed to know the limitation of damages. Subparagraph two of the relevant section of the limitation states that, “If the jury awards an amount for noneconomic damages that exceeds the limitation established under subsection (b) of this section, the court shall reduce the amount to conform to the limitation.”
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