Permanent injuries take all forms, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), limited function of limbs, or severe organ damage. What they all have in common is that they significantly affect lifestyle and activities of daily living. Permanent injuries may require lifetime treatment and medication. In some situations, however, there is nothing medically to be done after the victim has reached maximum medical improvement.
In general, serious permanent injury lawsuits should be filed in Circuit Court or Federal Court, where there is a possibility of a higher verdict. Some permanent injuries may not qualify for that type of lawsuit–most “soft-tissue” injuries, for example, should be filed in the District Courts. A permanent injury that qualifies for a higher verdict is one that has abundant objective evidence–the injury is obvious by looking at it, or at the very least, with an MRI or x-ray.
Damages Recoverable in Permanent Injury Lawsuits
“Damages” is a lawyer word to describe the money that you can get by way of an accident settlement or verdict. For permanent injury cases, you can recover money for:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Physical impairment
Each one of these things is separate and distinct, and a jury should be given the opportunity to make a verdict for each of them. This is a list that is contained in the Maryland jury instructions–guidelines given to juries in personal injury cases. Good lawyers will emphasize each one, explaining, for example, how the plaintiff-victim is disfigured (outward signs of the injury); how the injury causes impairment (inability to move or act as before); and how the injury causes inconvenience (for example, reliance on others for transportation).
The jury should be encouraged to compare the victim’s post-accident life to his pre-accident life. Does the victim miss out on family time, sports, work, or recreational activities that she used to enjoy? Does it preclude fulfillment of any life goals? How does it affect her relationships with friends, family and co-workers?
We often encourage our clients to keep a journal or diary of their experiences after an accident–to record their daily frustrations, which can be used to help us understand the day-to-day difficulties caused by the defendant’s negligence. If we understand, we can make the jury understand.