In a recent decision, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals considered whether damages were fairly awarded to an injured plaintiff based on the provided jury instructions. In Lawrence v. Henry (Md. Ct. Spec. App. May 4, 2016), the plaintiff was injured in a car accident caused by the defendant’s negligent driving. After the trial, the jury awarded approximately $49,000 in damages to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff sought review from the Court of Special Appeals, contending that the trial court erred in denying jury instructions on susceptibility to injury and aggravation of a previous condition, and in preventing the plaintiff’s counsel from arguing that his injuries were permanent. The plaintiff argued that the jury’s low award of non-economic damages indicated prejudice caused by the court’s decisions.
The Court of Special Appeals initially found that both of the plaintiff’s objections had not been preserved for review, and thus they could not be appealed. Nevertheless, the court went on to find that, even if the objection to the jury instructions was preserved for review, it would be without merit. The court explained that it considers the following factors when deciding whether a trial court abused its discretion in denying a request for a particular jury instruction: (1) whether the requested instruction was a correct statement of the law; (2) whether it was applicable under the facts of the case; and (3) whether it was fairly covered in the instructions actually given. In Lawrence, the dispute centered around whether the instructions were applicable under the facts of the case.
Ultimately, the court held that the requested instructions were inapplicable because there was no evidence presented on the part of the plaintiff or the defendant to support a finding that a previous condition of the plaintiff was aggravated by the car accident. Nor was there evidence to indicate that the plaintiff was more susceptible to the injuries he suffered than the average person.
In addition, the court held that there was insufficient evidence for the jury to infer that the plaintiff’s injuries were permanent, and thus the trial court did not err in precluding a closing argument on the subject. The appeals court explained that there was no evidence regarding the likely result of a second surgery scheduled for the plaintiff, and the condition of the plaintiff’s shoulder was likely to change. Accordingly, the court affirmed the $49,000 jury verdict.
Damages in negligence claims can be difficult to prove in some cases, but a skilled attorney can present evidence of loss to a judge or jury in the most persuasive way possible. The Maryland injury attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. have substantial experience representing plaintiffs in a variety of negligence cases, including auto accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and many others. To discuss your personal injury claim with one of our accident lawyers, contact Foran & Foran, P.A. by phone at (301) 441-2022 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Court Rules in Favor of Insureds, Awards Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Moped and Motor Scooter Cases, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published December 14, 2015
Maryland Court Reviews Jury Verdict in Motorcycle Accident Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published March 16, 2016