Maryland Causes of Action
Overview by Phillips Law Group, LLC
Unless you have a case based on a contract or a regulation in the Maryland Code, the majority of cases that end up in civil court in Maryland are considered tort claims. The purpose of a civil lawsuit based on tort law is to put the injured party into a position where the injury has been compensated--this includes both demonstrable damages as well as pain and suffering.
A tort is an infringement of a right or wrongful act that leads to civil liability. The person the act was committed against is the claimant and suffers damages as a result of the wrongful act. Torts do not have to be intentional; many torts are caused by negligence (violation of a duty to be reasonably careful).
If you are in an auto accident in which the at-fault party was distracted and you suffered property damage or bodily injury, it is a negligent tort. An intentional tort is one in which the action is intended. It is purposeful, and the party intends to hurt the other party in some manner. Using the same auto accident example, if the person who struck your vehicle wanted to hit you on purpose, then it shows intent.
Sometimes the difference between intent and negligence is subtle, but it is the determining factor in whether the plaintiff can bring a cause of action for an intentional tort. For example, if someone intentionally injures you, you can seek punitive damages in addition to economic damages and pain and suffering.
Most Common Types of Intentional Torts
The most common types of intentional torts in Maryland include:
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Trespass and Conversion
These acts do not need to cause physical injuries. One such act is defamation, which causes damage to a person’s reputation. Defamation can be spoken (slander) or libel (written). False arrest or false imprisonment does not mean physical injuries, either. It could involve a security guard who wrongfully detained someone suspected of shoplifting or a domestic dispute in which one person tries to keep the other from leaving and subsequently blocks the door.
Some intentional torts can also be criminal actions. Assault and battery would be two examples in which criminal charges could be brought as well as a civil suit.
Criminal Prosecution vs Civil Lawsuit
You, as the claimant, can bring a civil lawsuit against the tortfeasor, in which you will be claiming financial damages for the at-fault party’s intentional and wrongful act. If criminal charges are brought, they are brought by the government, who is the plaintiff in the matter. Potential penalties for criminal charges include jail time and/or fines. In a civil suit, the plaintiff can recover medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages in some cases.
The burden of proof is lower with a civil case versus a criminal matter. This means that even a defendant who is found not guilty in a criminal case can lose a civil case and be forced to pay the claimant.
The majority of personal injury claims have economic and noneconomic damages included in a settlement or a judgment. Economic damages are those that include the cost of medical treatments, lost wages, property damage, and potentially the future loss of income. Non-economic damages are those that are more subjective, like pain and suffering or loss of support. Intentional harm cases may have the element of punitive damages included. These damages are intended to punish a wrongdoer for his or her wrongful act.
Retaining a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been the victim of a wrongful act, negligent or intentional, it is important to speak to a skilled Maryland attorney. Contact attorney Douglas Phillips to get a case evaluation today: 410-961-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org .