In the tragic event of a crash caused by a drunk driver, victims have a range of damages available if they are successful in a lawsuit. A lawsuit against the driver (or others that may be responsible for the crash) permits Maryland car accident victims to recover damages for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages, or special damages, are generally the out-of-pocket expenses that a victim incurs, including medical bills, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, transportation costs, future expenses, and others. Non-economic damages, or general damages, are other damages that do not have a fixed dollar value, such as emotional distress, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.
Maryland has a limit on non-economic damages available in civil cases. As of January 1, 2020, the limit available for non-economic damages was $830,000, although more may be available in some instances. There is no limit on economic damages. Economic and non-economic damages are known as compensatory damages, because they are intended to compensate the plaintiff for the injuries they suffered.
Punitive damages also may be available in some cases. Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are not meant to compensate the victim, but rather to punish the defendant and to serve as a warning for others. To be awarded punitive damages in a Maryland DUI crash case, a plaintiff has to prove that the defendant had actual knowledge of the wrongful conduct. The plaintiff has to prove punitive damages by the higher clear and convincing evidence standard, while other damages have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence. The plaintiff has the burden to prove damages as an element of the plaintiff’s case. The types of damages available vary depending on the person bringing the claim and the type of claim.