An individual who has been injured by the negligence of another is entitled under the law to be “made whole” for their injuries. The remedial purpose of the law here is to restore that individual, as nearly as possible, to their pre-accident condition by way of monetary compensation called damages. An injured individual is entitled to collect money damages or compensation for their
- medical expenses
- loss of wages and earning capacity, and
- non-economic damage
An award for non-economic damages includes consideration for such things as discomfort, disfigurement, physical and mental pain, anguish ordistress, as well as inconvenience or humiliation. There is only one financial recovery for those damages, even if more than one individual contributes to the circumstances giving rise to the injury. In that instance, the injured person may recover up to the full amount of their damages award from any one of the responsible parties. This type of responsibility is frequently referred to as joint and or liability. If one responsible party pays more than their share, the paying parties may then have rights of set off, or contribution, from the other responsible actors, so that all responsible parties bear the loss in equal measure. Note, however, that where the injured person seeks compensation for injuries but has also been determined to have contributed in even the slightest manner to the happening of an automobile accident, they are barred by principles of contributory negligence from any recovery whatsoever. Most states have adopted a system of comparative fault where the relative degrees of responsibility are determined. For example, in an automobile accident case, a jury in one of these other jurisdictions may determine that the defendant was 25% responsible, but that the plaintiff also bore some responsibility, and reduced that responsibility to the numerical percentage to 25%. Under a comparative fault scheme, that injured plaintiff could still recover 50% of their damages from the party found to be more responsible. Maryland is one of the few states that has consistently refused to adopt this comparative fault scheme. In Maryland, an injured plaintiff who is found to have been responsible, in even the slightest measure, for causing an accident is precluded from any recovery at all.