If you’re accidentally injured because someone else was negligent, you are entitled to compensation under Maryland law. Compensation is your right if you’re injured by negligence, but recovering it may not be easy. You’ll need help from a Bethesda personal injury lawyer.
What does it take to prevail with a personal injury claim in Maryland? What types of compensation are available in a personal injury case? Is there a time limit for taking legal action after you’ve been injured by negligence?
If you’ll continue reading, you will learn those answers, and you’ll also learn more about your rights as an injured victim of negligence in this state.
Injured victims of negligence in traffic, medical malpractice, product liability, and premises liability cases may bring a personal injury claim seeking damages.
If you are injured by a biting dog, a careless driver, a faulty kitchen appliance, an incident of medical malpractice, or in any other accident scenario where another person’s negligence causes an injury or injuries, you have the right to take legal action, and you are entitled to compensation.
The injury victim in a personal injury case is called the “plaintiff.” The party accused of negligence is called the “defendant.” The compensation or reimbursement sought by the plaintiff is called “damages.”
The final amount that a negligence victim recovers may be decided when lawyers for both sides reach a private agreement in out-of-court negotiations, but if no acceptable settlement offer is made, your lawyer may suggest going to trial and asking a jury to order the payment of damages.
The two main categories or types of damages that may be sought and paid in personal injury cases are “compensatory” damages and “punitive” damages. Compensatory damages are sought in all personal injury cases.
Punitive damages, however, are rarely sought and are even more rarely awarded in Maryland personal injury cases. Punitive damages are damages beyond what a defendant needs for compensation.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and deter irresponsible behavior in the future. In Maryland, a personal injury plaintiff who seeks punitive damages must demonstrate with clear and persuasive evidence that a defendant acted with “actual malice.”
Compensatory damages, on the other hand, directly compensate victims of negligence for their losses and for the harm they have suffered as a result of their injuries.
Most personal injury plaintiffs in Maryland can expect to recover only compensatory damages, which are generally categorized as (1) “special” or “economic” damages and (2) “general” or “non-economic” damages.
Special damages compensate an injury victim for expenses incurred or monetary losses suffered due to a personal injury. Special damages are reimbursement for your expenditures and losses. It’s important to save and copy all bills, receipts, and other documents generated by an accident and a personal injury.
Clearly, the amount of the special damages an injury victim receives will vary considerably from case to case. But in every personal injury case, special damages are meant to compensate the injury victim for his or her accident-and-injury-related losses and expenses. These may include:
1. Loss of earnings and loss of future earning capacity
2. Hospital costs, current medical bills, and future medical expenses
3. Additional costs for childcare, housekeeping, and transportation
The other broad category of compensatory damages, “general” damages, are also called “non-economic” damages because you won’t have bills or receipts for your personal pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of the “enjoyment of life,” or loss of consortium.
It’s challenging to attach a dollar amount to someone’s personal suffering and pain, but a personal injury attorney can help you calculate the value of these damages.
A plaintiff should receive damages when a settlement has been negotiated or when a jury orders the payment, but collecting your damages isn’t automatic and isn’t always easy.
Defendants who are found liable for negligence may be unable or even unwilling to pay. Your personal injury lawyer may be able to uncover undisclosed assets, place liens on a defendant’s property, or even garnish his or her wages.
If a defendant who has been found liable has applicable liability coverage, the insurance provider will usually settle the claim or pay the damage award up to the limits of the policy.
It’s important to have an injury attorney who will aggressively seek all potential sources of compensation on your behalf.
If you’re injured in traffic by a commercial driver, for example, the driver’s employer may have liability. An automaker could have liability for a traffic accident caused by defective brakes or steering. In a medical malpractice case, a hospital or clinic may share liability with a doctor.
If you are injured by negligence, the right Bethesda personal injury lawyer will fight aggressively for every cent that you are entitled to by law. Your lawyer will review the details and evidence, interrogate any witnesses, and bring the case to its best possible outcome.
Most personal injury claims in Maryland are settled privately, outside of the courtroom, so most injury victims never have to appear in court. Still, your lawyer should be both a seasoned trial attorney and a skilled negotiator. Each case is different. You’ll need experience on your side.
Maryland has a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, but don’t wait three years, or even three weeks, to contact a Maryland personal injury lawyer. If you were injured by negligence, schedule a legal consultation immediately after you’ve been seen by a doctor.
If your medical costs and other obligations are mounting because you’ve been injured, can you pay for an attorney? The answer is yes. Maryland personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. You pay no attorney’s fee unless and until you receive the compensation you need.
Your first legal consultation with a Maryland injury attorney is free, and there’s no obligation. It will cost you nothing to receive sound, personalized advice and to find out how the law applies to your own personal injury situation.