When someone else makes a mistake, acts negligently, or does something recklessly and ends up causing you to get hurt, it can leave you feeling frustrated and victimized. In many of these kinds of cases, you could have suffered serious injuries through no fault of your own. In fact, many times you get hurt in situations that you could not avoid.
Medical malpractice is one example of how these kinds of injuries can happen, and often produces the most devastating and life-threatening injuries that you can be put through. Whether it is the result of a surgical error that causes significant internal injuries that lead to long-term suffering and debilitating complications, or a missed or mistaken diagnosis that lets a medical condition get worse until it is no longer easily treatable, medical malpractice injuries are serious and life-altering.
These injuries, however, do not just change the lives of the people who suffer from them: They also impact the lives of their family members and those who count on them for support. This is why Maryland's medical malpractice laws allow the family members of malpractice victims to recover compensation for the ordeal that they have been forced to go through, as well.
Types of Damages in Malpractice Cases in Maryland
Medical malpractice is a small part of the field of personal injury law. The prime focus of personal injury law is to make victims as whole as they were before they suffered at the hands of someone else's negligence. Unfortunately, because not even the courts can turn back time to before the accident occurred, the most that can happen is providing you with the compensation that you need and deserve to overcome your injuries, as well as the pain, suffering, and other losses that you have gone through.
These losses come in two forms: Economic and non-economic. Economic losses are those that can easily be distilled into a dollar amount, and include:
- The costs of your medical expenses necessary to overcome the medical malpractice,
- Wages that were lost while you recovered from your injuries, and
- Any earning potential that was lost because of your injuries.
On the other hand, non-economic damages are those that are not easy to put into a dollar amount, including compensation:
- For the pain and suffering that you went through, and
- For the loss of consortium and support that your family went through while you recovered.
Loss of Consortium
In Maryland, you can receive compensation from the party that hurt your spouse, if your spouse was injured in such a way that they can no longer fully participate in the marriage. This includes any loss of companionship, affection, any other kind of marital assistance, and even a loss or an impairment of sexual relations that happened because of your spouse's injuries. This rule realizes that, when people get hurt because of someone else's negligence, their family suffers with them and deserves to be compensated, as well. Unfortunately, while some states look past just the formality of marriage and allow loss of consortium to people if they can prove a stable and close relationship with the victim of an accident, Maryland is not one of those states.
Because it is the spouse that is pursuing compensation for their loss of consortium, the logistics of these kinds of claims are tricky. In Maryland, a spouse's claim for their loss of consortium is included in the victim's underlying lawsuit for compensation that resulted from their injuries. As a result, if the direct victim's underlying claim ends or gets settled, the spouse's claim for loss of consortium ends, as well.
Damage Caps for Medical Malpractice Claims in Maryland
Additionally, because a loss of consortium claim is a part of the underlying lawsuit, if that lawsuit is based on a claim of medical malpractice, Maryland's damage caps for medical malpractice claims also apply to the loss of consortium claim, as well.
In Maryland, victims of medical malpractice are only allowed to recover up to a set amount in non-economic damages, regardless of how badly they were hurt. In theory, the law that caps non-economic damages was meant to keep the price of healthcare down. In reality, though, it leaves innocent malpractice victims throughout the state without the compensation they need to make a full recovery.
Under Maryland's law capping non-economic damages, if the instance of medical malpractice happened between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2008, then the non-economic damages that can be recovered in a medical malpractice claim are limited to $650,000. This amount increases by $15,000 for each successive year.
Because a spouse's loss of consortium is considered “non-economic,” the amount that can be recovered by a malpractice victim's spouse is limited by this damage cap. Worse, the dollar amount of this damage cap puts a single limit on all of the non-economic damages that can be recovered in a malpractice claim. This means a spouse's loss of consortium damages could be nothing, precisely because the malpractice victim's injuries caused so much pain and suffering that the compensation for the pain and suffering goes right up to the limitation of the damage cap.
Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Maryland Can Help
The attorneys at the Maryland law office of Gilman & Bedigian know and understand how devastating an instance of medical malpractice can be, both for the person who suffers directly from the doctor's negligence and for their spouse. Sometimes, the emotional strain and heartache that you are forced to go through while watching your spouse suffer from a medical mistake can be just as debilitating and painful as it is for your spouse to deal with their injuries. The fact that there is little you can do only makes it worse.
This is why we fight for both the victims of medical malpractice as well as their families. Contact us online or call our law office at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation that will help us understand your case and will help you understand your rights and how to go about enforcing them against the medical professionals that have caused so much harm.