Baldwin & Briscoe P.C.
301-862-4400
22335 Exploration Drive Ste. 2030
Lexington Park, MD 20653
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How are Damages Calculated for a Personal Injury Case

 

      At Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C., we’ve been handling personal injury cases for years.  Inevitably, our clients want to know “what is my case worth?”  I generally tell clients at the initial consultation that we need to see all of their medical records and bills, and to see how their treatment and recovery progress, before we can even begin to answer that question.  The value of a personal injury case can vary widely depending on many factors.  Some of these factors include:

  • ·         Whether liability is admitted or in dispute
  • ·         What type of injury was sustained
  • ·         Whether there is sufficient insurance to cover a verdict
  • ·         Whether the injury is temporary or permanent
  • ·         Whether the injury impairs bodily function
  • ·         Whether the individual suffered broken bones
  • ·         Whether there is neurological damage
  • ·         Whether the individual was unable to work following the injury

Each personal injury case has its unique set of facts.  Each individual will be affected by an injury differently depending on their age and general state of health prior to the accident.  There is no mathematical formula for personal injury cases.  If there were, then individuals wouldn’t need lawyers to advocate for them when they have been injured.

In Maryland, judge and juries are required to determine damages in a manner that will “fairly compensate the plaintiff”  The damages cannot be remote or speculative, but must be proven with “reasonable certainty.”  A physical injury is compensable if it is capable of objective determination.  In other words there must be some means of observing the injury.  An injury causing mental distress is compensable if there is some outward manifestation of the distressed mental state.  Outward manifestations can include things like fatigue, sleeplessness, constipation and mood change. 

There are essentially six factors that are considered by a judge or jury in determining what damages, if any, to award in a personal injury case.  These factors are:

  • ·         What injuries were sustained, and the extent of their duration
  • ·         The effect such injuries have on the overall physical and mental health and well-being of the plaintiff
  • ·         The physical pain and mental anguish suffered in the past and that with reasonable probability may be expected to be experienced in the future
  • ·         The disfigurement and humiliation or embarrassment associated with such disfigurement
  • ·         The medical and other expenses reasonably incurred in the past and that with reasonable probability may be expected in the future
  • ·         The loss of earnings in the past and such earnings or reduction in earnings capacity that with reasonable probability may be expected in the future.

Judges and juries are required to take into account the plaintiff’s susceptibility to injury.  The fact that an injury would have been less serious if inflicted upon another person should not affect the amount of damages to which the plaintiff may be entitled.  A person might suffer a more severe injury based on their age or physical condition than a younger or healthier person would under the same circumstances.  They are not entitled to less compensation because of this fact.

Plaintiffs are entitled to be compensated when an accident results in the aggravation of a previous condition.  The plaintiff has the burden to demonstrate what portion of the injury, if any, was aggravated as opposed to what was pre-existing. 

Plaintiffs are expected to mitigate their damages under the law.  For example when a plaintiff can significantly mitigate their injury, but doesn’t, it can result in a reduction of damages.  A longstanding case held that where a plaintiff who could have, but chose not to, undergo a simple hernia operation, it was proper for the jury to consider whether he could have avoided some of the pain and discomfort experienced by having the operation, and if so, that he would not be compensated for it.

Juries are generally instructed that in determining damages, they are to consider any expenses, mental pain and suffering, fright, nervousness, indignity, humiliation, embarrassment, and insult to which the plaintiff was subjected as a direct result of the defendant’s conduct. 

In cases where the plaintiff is married, the plaintiff and their spouse can recover for loss of consortium.  A married couple is entitled to be compensated for wrongful damage to the marital relationship.  The damages which justify compensation include their loss of companionship, affection, assistance, and loss or impairment of sexual relations.

Finally, personal injury plaintiffs can be awarded damages for pre-impact fright.  This is to compensate for emotional distress, and mental anguish that the plaintiff suffers between the time the plaintiff realized there would be an accident and the accident. 

In wrongful death cases, a surviving spouse may recover damages for economic and noneconomic damages caused by the death.  Economic losses include the financial support, as well as the replacement value of services that the deceased furnished or probably would have furnished.  The fact finder can consider the deceased’s earnings and future earning capacity for the probable joint life expectancy of the couple.  Noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases including mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, martial care, attention, advice, or counsel the surviving spouse has experienced or probably will experience in the future as a result of the death.

When a child is killed, damages may be awarded to the parents to compensate for economic and non-economic losses caused by the death.  Economic losses include any financial benefits a parent probably would have been expected to receive from the deceased child.  Noneconomic losses to consider are the mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, and the loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, care, attention, advice, counsel, or guidance a parent has experienced or probably will experience in the future as a result of the death.  When a parent is killed, the child is entitled to recover similar damages. 

Unfortunately when an individual is injured, whether is because of an automobile accident, a slip and fall, or any other reason, it is not easy to just fix things and move on.  Our legal system cannot take away the pain, discomfort and inconvenience of being injured, and it certainly cannot take away the pain, loss and grief when someone is killed in an accident.  The only way to make up for those things is by awarding monetary compensation. 

When anyone makes a claim for damages in a personal injury case, they have only one shot at recovery.  The system is designed such that the defendant, or their insurance company, writes one check at the end of the case.  The plaintiff cannot go back later because they are still experiencing pain or discomfort after the fact.  As such, it is important that you retain an experienced personal injury attorney when you’ve been injured. 

 

The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice.  The experienced attorneys at Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. can assist you if you or a love one have been seriously injured or killed.  Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation, in-office-consultation for any injury related claim.  The law offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. handle accident claims in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

 

The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. also offers these services:

Bankruptcy and ForeclosureBusiness LawCivil LitigationCriminal DefenseEmployment, Disability, and Consumer RightsFamily LawGovernment Contracts LawIntellectual Property, Personal InjuryReal Estate, Social Security Disability & Workers’ Compensation and Wills, Trusts, & Estates

 

 

Contact Us

The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C.

22335 Exploration Drive

Suite 2030

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-862-4400 Phone

301-862-3009 Fax

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Our Attorneys

Samuel C.P. Baldwin, Jr., Esq.

Janice Briscoe, Esq.

Richard J. Steinmetz Jr., Esq.

David J. Hebb, Esq.

Sandra Kaufman Jonasen, Esq.


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With an office conveniently located in Lexington Park, The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Stienmetz, P.C. serves clients in the counties and cities of Lexington Park, Leonardtown, Hollywood, Mechanicsville, Loveville, Helen, Breton Bay, Chaptico, Charlotte Hall, Golden Beach, Avenue, La Plata, Waldorf, Newburg, Port Tobacco, Port Charles, Solomons Island, Prince Frederick, Chesapeake Shores, Hughesville, Benedict, Nanjemoy, Lusby, Port Republic, St. Mary's County, Charles County, Calvert County, Prince George's County, Southern Maryland.


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