Can Maryland Judges Interfere with a Jury’s Damages Award?

In a Maryland personal injury case, the jury typically determines not only whether the defendant should be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, but also the amount of damages that the plaintiff is entitled to. Usually, a jury’s damages award is respected by the courts. However, there are a few procedural mechanisms by which a court can review – and alter – a jury’s award.

In a recent state appellate decision, the court was asked to review a jury’s damages award in favor of a truck accident victim. Evidently, the victim was involved in a devastating truck accident when another semi-truck collided with his truck. Initially, the victim thought the injury was minor, but as he sought medical treatment, he realized that it was more severe than he initially thought. The man had doctors give him a steroid shot with only temporary improvement. Then the man went through surgery; however, again, the improvement was marginal at best. He still suffers from back pain.

The victim filed a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, and that driver’s employer. The case went to trial, and the jury awarded the plaintiff over $2.8 million in damages. Among those damages was a $1 million award for future pain and suffering, a $140,000 award for mental anguish, and a $1.1 million award for future physical impairment. The defendant filed an appeal, arguing that four damages awards were improper. However, the defendant only objected to two of those awards at trial.

The court determined that the defendant was not permitted to raise objections to a damages category for the first time on appeal, and dismissed the newly raised claims. However, that left the defendant’s argument that there was no support for the $140,000 future mental anguish award, and that the $1 million future pain award was excessive. On these issues, the court sided with the defendant.

The court reviewed the plaintiff’s pain-management regimen, which consisted of an hour-long stretch once a day. All but two days out of the week, that stretch was enough to keep the pain at bay; however, for two days per week, the plaintiff needed to engage in another hour-long stretching session. The plaintiff also takes ibuprofen and wakes up from the pain about four nights a week. The court compared the plaintiff’s situation to other published cases, and determined that while the plaintiff’s pain was “significant,” it did not justify a $1 million award. The court also held that there was no evidence to support the $140,000 award for mental anguish, so the court reversed that award, as well. The court then remanded the case back to the lower court so that it could come up with a reduced amount of damages for future pain.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. At the Maryland injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent injury victims and their families in all types of Maryland traffic accident cases, including semi-truck accidents. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

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