Damages: What Can Be Awarded at a Trial
September 21st, 2016 by Attorney Roger Weinberg
Lawsuits involving Maryland nursing homes, group homes and assisted living facilities can be very emotionally charged. No matter the pain, suffering and anguish a defendant may have caused, in the end a successful lawsuit provides only monetary compensation (though you may get satisfaction when the responsible party is held accountable). That amount of money, known as damages, is meant to compensate the victim and his or her family for the harm done.
Damages are a way to measure the harm caused by a defendant. Those damages vary depending on the facts of the case, the type of case and the applicable laws. The plaintiff has the burden of proving a breach of the standard of care and that that breach caused the injury or death and also needs to spell out how those damages are calculated. Without damages being awarded, a successful lawsuit would be only a moral victory. There are two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages represent the financial harm done by the defendant. It could be medical bills or other costs that need to be paid if, for example, a nursing home resident suffered a serious bedsore or broken bones due to a fall and needed to be transferred to a hospital for treatment. These damages need to be carefully calculated. If your family is spending money because of problems caused by a negligent nursing home, document those figures as best you can. Keep receipts of any money spent. If the nursing home resident is spending money on additional health care, those costs also need to be documented. It’s much easier to retain and organize these records as expenses come up instead of trying to recreate these records in the future. If costs are expected to continue into the future, an award for expected future economic damages may also be awarded.
Non-economic damages are not as concrete, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be awarded by a jury. They include pain and suffering, emotional issues, mental anguish and loss of a relationship with a loved one. Showing a close bond between the victim of neglect and abuse and their family as well as how devastating the loss or death has been are important. Outrageous conduct and defenses can increase awards for non-economic damages.
Due to state laws passed in 1986 and 1994, there are limits on non-economic damages for some types of legal actions. This cap changes annually and differs for medical and nursing malpractice actions and non-medical malpractice actions, such as lawsuits due to a vehicle accident. The caps also differ depending on whether there is only a survival action, only a wrongful death action, or both.
If your loved one died or was injured while under the care of a Maryland nursing home or assisted living facility and you believe it was caused by abuse, neglect or negligence, contact our office. We can talk about the situation, the applicable laws, what types of damages may be sought and your legal options for obtaining compensation and justice for the deceased. At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 410-825-3161 today to schedule a free consultation.