A Baltimore medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of a widow and her eight children in the amount of $10 million on September 22, 2016, due to the medical negligence of the medical malpractice defendants that led to the husband/father’s death, but the Baltimore medical malpractice jury’s verdict will be reduced by more than 90% pursuant to Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages in Maryland medical malpractice cases.
The plaintiff’s husband was admitted to the defendant hospital on March 11, 2013 where he received dialysis and other medical treatment for renal failure and rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is an extremely rare medical condition in which muscle tissue breaks down and as a result, releases harmful protein into the bloodstream that can cause kidney damage.
Elevated levels of potassium in the 63-year-old pastor’s blood led to heart complications for which the defendant physician ordered Kayexalate, to remove the excess potassium. The widow’s Baltimore medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit alleged that it was medical negligence to order Kayexalate for her husband under the circumstances, and that the Kayexalate caused the man to suffer severe damage to his colon, which was a known risk of being administered Kayexalate.
The man suffered severe pain and discomfort due to the damage to his colon, and he required emergency surgery. He died on March 20, 2013.
The Baltimore wrongful death claim alleged that the defendant physician was unaware of the risk of serious colon damage as a result of being administered Kayexalate. The Baltimore medical malpractice defendants contended that the order for Kayexalate was proper and that the man died due to episodes of low blood pressure while he was hospitalized along with the contributing factors of his chronic end-stage kidney disease and liver failure. The defendants have indicated their intention to appeal the Baltimore medical malpractice jury’s verdict.
Despite the Baltimore medical malpractice jury’s verdict in the amount of $10 million that the jury determined was fair and just compensation for the man’s pain and suffering due to the defendants’ alleged medical malpractice, the Maryland cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases will result in the $10 million verdict being reduced to $906,250, which was the applicable cap on noneconomic damages in Maryland medical malpractice claims at the time of the medical negligence.
Maryland has two, distinct caps on noneconomic damages for personal injury claims: one for medical malpractice claims and the other applicable for all other personal injury claims.
The Maryland Medical Malpractice Cap On Noneconomic Damages
The Maryland medical malpractice cap on noneconomic damages is set forth in the Annotated Code of Maryland, § 3-2A-09 (“Limitation of noneconomic damages”): “(1)(i) … an award or verdict under this subtitle for noneconomic damages for a cause of action arising between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2008, inclusive, may not exceed $650,000. (ii) The limitation on noneconomic damages provided under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph shall increase by $15,000 on January 1 of each year beginning January 1, 2009. The increased amount shall apply to causes of action arising between January 1 and December 31 of that year, inclusive. (2)(i)… the limitation under paragraph (1) of this subsection shall apply in the aggregate to all claims for personal injury and wrongful death arising from the same medical injury, regardless of the number of claims, claimants, plaintiffs, beneficiaries, or defendants. (ii) If there is a wrongful death action in which there are two or more claimants or beneficiaries, whether or not there is a personal injury action arising from the same medical injury, the total amount awarded for noneconomic damages for all actions may not exceed 125% of the limitation established under paragraph (1) of this subsection, regardless of the number of claims, claimants, plaintiffs, beneficiaries, or defendants.” The jury is precluded from being informed of the cap.
The Maryland Cap On Noneconomic Damages In Personal Injury Cases Other Than Medical Malpractice Cases
The Maryland cap on noneconomic damages in personal injury cases other than Maryland medical malpractice cases is set forth in the Annotated Code of Maryland, § 11-108 (“Personal injury action — Limitation on noneconomic damages”): ” … (1) In any action for damages for personal injury in which the cause of action arises on or after July 1, 1986, an award for noneconomic damages may not exceed $350,000. (2) (i) Except as provided in paragraph (3)(ii) of this subsection, in any action for damages for personal injury or wrongful death in which the cause of action arises on or after October 1, 1994, an award for noneconomic damages may not exceed $500,000. (ii) The limitation on noneconomic damages provided under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph shall increase by $15,000 on October 1 of each year beginning on October 1, 1995. The increased amount shall apply to causes of action arising between October 1 of that year and September 30 of the following year, inclusive. (3) (i) The limitation established under paragraph (2) of this subsection shall apply in a personal injury action to each direct victim of tortious conduct and all persons who claim injury by or through that victim. (ii) In a wrongful death action in which there are two or more claimants or beneficiaries, an award for noneconomic damages may not exceed 150% of the limitation established under paragraph (2) of this subsection, regardless of the number of claimants or beneficiaries who share in the award.” The jury is precluded from being informed of the cap.
The Effect Of Two, Different Caps On Noneconomic Damages In Maryland
In the Baltimore medical malpractice case discussed above, had the man been injured and died as a result of non-medical negligence, such as being struck by a negligent motor vehicle, the cap on noneconomic damages would have been $1,925,000 instead of $906,250.
If you or a family member suffered serious injury (or worse) in Maryland or in another U.S. state that may be due to medical negligence, you should promptly find a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a Maryland medical malpractice case (or a medical malpractice case in your state), if appropriate.
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