Maryland Court Discusses Emotional Injuries Brought About by Property Damage

Generally, people seeking damages in personal injury lawsuits will allege that they suffered bodily harm. While plaintiffs can usually recover compensation for physical injuries they suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence, they cannot recover damages for emotional injuries caused by learning about or witnessing property damage. There are exceptions to the general rule, though, like the personal safety exception, as discussed in a recent Maryland case. If you suffered emotional harm due to another party’s carelessness, it is advisable to contact a Maryland personal injury lawyer to discuss whether you might be owed damages.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant crashed his truck into the plaintiffs’ house in September 2019. The accident occurred early in the morning. While the plaintiffs were home at the time of the incident, they did not sustain any physical harm. They suffered emotional injuries, however, and subsequently sought compensation from the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. After the completion of discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs could not recover damages for emotional injuries brought about by witnessing damage to their property. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.

The Personal Safety Exception

On appeal, the trial court ruling was reversed. In Maryland, a plaintiff ordinarily cannot recover compensation for emotional injuries caused by witnessing carelessly inflicted injury to their property. There are exceptions, however, including the personal safety exception. The court explained that the personal safety exception allows for recovery when the defendant’s carelessness caused property damage that subsequently causes emotional harm that is brought about by the plaintiff’s reasonable fear for their own safety or for the safety of their family members.

In the subject case, the court found that, upon viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the plaintiffs as the non-moving party, there was adequate evidence to demonstrate that the personal safety exception applied and that the plaintiffs’ emotional trauma was foreseeable. Specifically, the plaintiffs testified that they were awoken by the noise and impact caused by the accident and that both they and their children experienced anxiety that began immediately after the incident and required treatment. As such, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Dedicated Maryland Attorney

Accidents often cause physical and emotional injuries, and people that recklessly harm others should be held accountable. If you were hurt in an incident caused by another person’s negligence, you could be owed compensation, and you should talk to an attorney about your possible claims.  The Maryland personal injury lawyers of Foran & Foran, P.A. can advise you of your options and help you to seek the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. We have an office in Greenbelt, and we frequently assist people in personal injury lawsuits in cities in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at (301) 441-2022 to set up a confidential and free meeting.

Contact Information