Maryland Catastrophic Injury Lawyers: Proposed State Senate Bill Would Remove Noneconomic Damages Cap for Catastrophic Injury ClaimsNovember 1, 2014
The Civil Actions-Noneconomic Damages-Catastrophic Injury bill recently proposed in the Maryland state Senate would increase the cap on noneconomic damages in both personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits. Although quantifiable damages, such as medical bills and future expenses necessitated by the injury, are not limited by a legislated amount in personal injury or malpractice claims, noneconomic damages are capped. This limit has been rising by approximately $15,000 annually since October 1994, when a cap of $500,000 was initially established.
This new bill would redefine catastrophic damages, such as permanent impairment or death, in personal injury and medical malpractice suits starting October 1, 2014 or later. In terms of medical malpractice claims, catastrophic damages would not be limited to the current noneconomic damages cap. For other personal injury suits, the plaintiff could claim up to three times the current cap for noneconomic damages.
What would the cap increase mean for insurance policies?
The bill would significantly increase the cap and likely necessitate higher liability policies on the parts of employers for personal injury insurance, in addition to higher premiums throughout the health care community. In turn, this could raise the cost of health care and auto insurance policies for consumers.
The cap was originally designated to control rapidly rising noneconomic damages awards, but has been subject to close examination in the last few years after advocates claimed that the cap is unconstitutional. Although the cap may seem high already, it’s important to note that it applies to fairly rare cases involving losses of incalculable value. The types of cases that involve these costs include the following:
- Major injuries requiring long-term, expensive medical treatment
- Permanent decreases in quality of life or life skills
- Disfigurement and the emotional impact, such as in burns or limb amputations
- Wrongful death
If you or a loved one is involved in a personal injury or medical malpractice suit in Baltimore or elsewhere in Maryland that involves noneconomic damages, consult the Maryland catastrophic injury lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. to learn more about your rights and legal options.