General Counsel to the Maryland Troopers’ Association
Experience against more than 35 different agencies
Criminal and Civil Litigation
Trial and Appellate
Helping Injured Workers
One Case at a Time
Counsel on more than 250 appeals in State and Federal Courts
Multiple cases in the Supreme Court of the United States
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[caption id="attachment_2009" align="alignright" width="416"] Though the injuries were not catastrophic, Byron did risk life, limb, and his glasses to testify in Annapolis. The icy conditions caused a (hopefully) quick trip to the disabled list.[/caption]
Byron L. Warnken testified in Annapolis today on SB 0479. In essence, the major function of the bill serves to create a new class of catastrophic injury, for which the noneconomic damages cap will be increased. If the defendant’s negligence is deemed to have caused this particular class of injury, the non-economic damages cap is tripled.
These catastrophic injuries include:
- Serious spinal cord injury
- Amputation of arm, hand, foot, or leg
- Severe brain or head injury
- Loss of reproductive organs causing inability to procreate
- Major burns as defined by the American Burn Association
SB 0479 makes a ton of sense from a logical standpoint. The concept of non-economic damages is supposed to be to prevent runaway jury verdicts. That’s the fallacy, though. Runaway jury verdicts don’t really exist and certainly don’t exist in such a way that insurance premiums are actually impacted.
But, even if you don’t agree with that, even if you think the concept of negligence should be replaced with the tough shit doctrine, you have to realize some situations are worse than others. Some injuries are so bad, some so egregious, some so life-changing, that the current caps on noneconomic damages are woefully inadequate. Or at least that these horrific cases are worse than other cases that reach the current statutory max. Maybe the caps on those cases should be lowered a little and catastrophics should be worth five times non-catastrophics. (That’s not on the table.) I don’t know what the proper solution is, I know only that the current situation is inadequate to deal with so many situations of people severely injured at someone else’s hands.
A Little Game – Someone Will Give You $815,000
Let’s play a little game. Just think really hard about it. Someone will give you $815,000. Someone will give you the better part of a million bucks. You just have to go through some shit.
For $815,000 would you…
- Lose your eyesight?
- Sit in a chair for the rest of your life? You can’t get up. Ever.
- Have a baby that should have been born perfectly healthy be born with cerebral palsy because of a mistake?
- Lose your ability to think with any clarity for a meaningful period of time?
- Lose your ability to have kids?
What are those things worth from a dollars and sense standpoint? What are those things worth to you? $815,000? $2.445 million? I don’t know the answer to that, either. But I do know one thing – a jury should decide. The justice system should be allowed to do its job. The less we interfere with that process, the better. The less we interfere, the more we are in line with what the framers of our Constitution – the inventors of our country – deemed appropriate. $815,000 to sit in a chair for the rest of my life because of some other guy’s negligence is simply too much interference with our system.
Dayna Kipnis’s Testimony
Earlier this month, Dayna Kipnis testified on SB0118, relating to workers’ compensation IME fees. In workers’ comp, both the injured worker and their employer or employer’s comp insurance company each get their own “independent” medical evaluation. Claimants can really only pay X for “Independent Medical Evaluations.” Employer/Insurers pay 2-3X for the same “Independent Medical Evaluations.”
If you’re a doctor, which IME’s do you want to do? You want to get paid $600 or $1500?
Dayna thinks the amount paid should be the same for both. Other workers’ compensation lawyers representing injured workers think the same. Shockingly, the insurance companies don’t think so. They are only too happy to keep paying more.
What percent of the population at large would hear this and say, And how the f^$k is that fair?
Both bills are a matter of fair and appropriate access to justice.
-Byron B. Warnken
Warnken, LLC Attorneys At Law
Warnken, LLC started more than 20 years ago. The senior member of the firm, Byron L. Warnken, Esq., has been an attorney for more than 35 years. He is also a full-time law professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Warnken teaches various criminal law related classes. In the past, he taught issues in law enforcement. From his classes, came his practice. In the beginning, being a scholar meant interesting specialty litigation at the appellate level. Things grew from there.
Warnken, LLC has handled more than 1300 criminal cases in more than 20 years of practice. This includes all phases of criminal litigation, including trial work and post-verdict work. Post-verdict means criminal appeals, post conviction, sentencing and other collateral review. Professor Byron L. Warnken teaches criminal law and constitutional criminal procedure. He is also the author of Maryland Criminal Procedure, a 1940-page three-volume treatise on the subject.
Warnken, LLC’s civil litigation practice, at this point, is primarily appeals. However, through of-counsel relationships, we handle car accidents, negligence, contested liability cases, personal injury, medical malpractice, and other injuries or disputes.
Workers’ compensation is by far the fastest growing practice area at Warnken, LLC. Our comp practice is likely the fastest growing in the state. Warnken, LLC had less than 20 comp files at any given time two and a half years ago. Today there are approximately 100.
Our comp practice grew from serving law enforcement. Being one of the most dangerous jobs, police officers and other public safety employees often need counsel for workplace injuries. In order to serve our existing clients, we gained the expertise.
For more than 15 years, Warnken, LLC has been general counsel to the Maryland Troopers Association. We handle administrative discipline, trial boards, disability retirement, grievances, and generally anything else active or retired law enforcement personnel face. We take great pride in the work.