To establish a personal injury claim, the plaintiff must prove each element of the cause of action. In a January 19, 2021, Maryland car accident case, the only element at issue was the matter of damages suffered by the plaintiff. Although the defendant had admitted his negligence in causing the collision, the plaintiff was nevertheless required to prove her injuries and damages flowing from the accident. After the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff but awarded no damages, the plaintiff appealed, and the matter came before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.
The plaintiff in the case was stopped at an intersection when the defendant collided into the rear of her vehicle. The defendant admitted that he had taken his eyes off the road and apologized to the plaintiff. The plaintiff did not seek medical attention at the time of the accident. The next morning, however, the plaintiff felt that her body was starting to stiffen up. She went to see an orthopedic surgeon who had previously treated her for a neck condition. Her surgeon concluded that the plaintiff’s injuries were consistent with whiplash. Over the next two years, the plaintiff continued to seek medical treatment for cervical and lumbar strains.
At trial, the sole issue was the amount of damages, if any, suffered by the plaintiff. The plaintiff presented witness testimony from her doctors and parents. She did not introduce any of her medical bills into evidence, relying purely on testimony to establish her damages. After a brief deliberation, the jury returned a verdict awarding the plaintiff zero damages.
On appeal, the plaintiff asserted that the zero-dollar verdict was inconsistent with the uncontroverted evidence of her injuries presented at trial. She further argued that the lower court erred by failing to grant her motion to revise through additur or grant her a new trial.
Additur is a court order that increases the jury’s award of damages to avoid a new trial on the grounds of inadequate damages. The appeals court held that, insofar as Maryland has never explicitly adopted the use of additur, the lower court did not err in denying the motion.
The appeals court went on to explain that, even in a case where there is evidence that the plaintiff experienced pain, the jury may still reject testimony supporting a claim for damages. The court noted that the plaintiff had testified she felt no pain at the time of the accident and presented no medical records showing an injury. The court further stated that, under the circumstances, the jury was free to disbelieve the evidence presented. Finding no error by the trial court’s denial of a new trial, the appeals court affirmed the verdict.
If you have been injured as a result of negligence, you may be able to recover your medical expenses and other damages. At Foran & Foran, P.A., our accident lawyers can represent people in personal injury claims arising from automobile collisions, medical negligence, slip and fall injuries, and other accidents. Request a consultation with one of our injury attorneys by calling (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.