The Maryland Litigation Blog

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The Hidden Costs of Maryland’s Non-Economic Damages Cap

By Byron Warnken

One might think a cap on non-economic damages is reasonable.  In theory, it is reasonable.  That’s how the right sells it to our population.  I do not, however, believe the cap on non-economic damages in Maryland is reasonable.  It’s simply too low at approximately $800,000.

How do you tell someone born with severe cerebral palsy because of a hospital’s negligence that a lifetime of struggle is worth $800,000?

It’s ridiculous.  But more ridiculous is what it does to the average case.

Picture a scenario with $100,000 in medical bills, $100,000 in lost wages, and a lifelong permanent injury with daily pain.  Picture the injured is 25 years old and will never have biological children as a result of the injury.  Now picture that the insurance policy is $1,000,000.  You might think that it makes sense that the injured would immediately be given the $1MM in insurance, but you might not be correct.  It might be that, if the insurance company doesn’t believe that the lawyer on the other side can bring in a large jury verdict, they don’t offer policy limits.  Maybe they offer $400,000.  Can you live with that?  If it’s your son or daughter described above, is $400,000 just compensation?

Without a cap on damages, that case is worth $1MM all day.  Because without the million dollar offer, someone will be there to go after the insurance company in a bad faith situation.  The same bad faith could exist above also, but it’s not as clear.

It’s likely you don’t understand the above scenario.  That’s why it’s important to have the one of the best injury lawyers in Maryland.  The differences in quality of lawyer matter significantly.

Other problems:

  • Damages caps lead to lower limits carried on the average insurance policy.  That hurts us all.
  • Damages caps give the ability for insurance companies to try otherwise untryable cases.
  • Caps help bad actors continue to get away with it.
  • Please read more here.