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Settlement Value of Loss of Vision Cases

What is the settlement value of a personal injury claim where you have lost your vision in either one eye or both? Metro Verdicts Monthly has a graph that reflects the median verdicts and settlements when the injury victim loses vision in one eye in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

What Is the Average Settlement in a Vision Loss Case?

The median for losing vision in one eye in Maryland is $231,000. You could drive a truck through the gap between Washington, D.C., and Virginia’s median settlements in verdicts with loss of vision in one eye cases: Washington, D.C.’s median is $162,500; Virginia’s is $320,000.

These numbers are a bit misleading.   I think because most loss of vision cases are product liability cases. Many product liability cases have questionable liability which decreases the average and median recoveries. If liability is not an issue, the values of these cases are much higher. eye loss verdicts

What Kind of Money Can I Expect for an Eye Injury at Work?

Workers’ compensation laws work differently than claims against other third parties. So if the claim is against your employer, a different set of laws apply. You can typically expect less money in a workers’ comp case against your employer than you would for the same injury when there was a third party responsible. But in some cases, the victim has two claims: a workers’ comp claim and a claim against the party that caused the harm.

What Types of Eye Injuries Do You See in Your Law Practice?

Our law firm has handled product liability, medical malpractice, and workplace injuries was damage to the eye that caused a partial or complete vision disturbance.

Is It Contributory Negligence Not to Wear Eye Protection?

Lawyers debate this issue. Our attorneys believe it is not contributory negligence under Maryland to not wear eye protection even if it is found that such protection would limit your injuries. (But, boy, wearing eye protection a good idea. The American Academy of Ophthalmology tells us the 90% of the 2,000 U.S. workers suffer EVERY DAY, 90 percent of these accidents can be avoided by wearing eye protection.)

Is There a Cap on Non-Economic Damages for an Eye Injury in Maryland?

In Maryland, any vision loss should be a “cap” case, which means you would get Maryland’s statutory cap of $875,000 for an accident occurring in July 2020, plus whatever your economic losses might be. If it is a malpractice case, the cap is $830,000.

Is There a Cap on Economic Damages in an Eye Injury Case?

There is not a cap on damages in an eye injury case in Maryland. Economic damages in these cases can be significant. Because of the potential loss of wages, employee benefits, and lost household services on top of future medical care, the economic losses in these cases can reach the millions very quickly.

vision loss cases

Value of Vision Loss Cases

Damages are broadly defined both as direct costs to the victim and as any loss of income or economically valuable activities that resulted from the incident. The subject’s pecuniary damages are divided into four categories: loss of earnings, medical expenses, household services, and the cost of any care that is required. My law firm has always been interested in the loss of vision cases.  Our interest has increased even more with the Elmiron lawsuits that have begun in earnest in 2020.

What Is the Average Workers Comp Settlement for Eye Injury?

It is important to understand the average payout in eye injury cases data that we have presented applies only in personal injury cases. In a Maryland workers’ compensation claim, the payouts will generally be much lower than they would be in a civil lawsuit.

Sample Verdicts and Settlements

These are eye injury plaintiffs’ verdicts from around the country.  Can these give you a better idea of the range of value in these cases?  Absolutely.  But I think you need to be careful about reading too much into a single case that sounds much like your own.  There are just too many factors in the mix to read a summary paragraph and think your case is identical factually or that all other factors in that case – most notably, jurisdiction, will be at play in yours.   So take the lessons these cases teach us but don’t “overlearn” the lesson if you know what I mean.

    YEAR / STATE

    CASE / INJURY SUMMARY

    RESULT

    2020 – Alabama

    An employee of a beverage distribution company suffered an injury to his left eye after glass bottle shards fell out of the box he carried. His doctor assigned him with 85% impairment to his left eye and restricted him from operating heavy equipment and hazardous machinery. He also suffered chronic headaches and depression. The case settled for $100,000, far less, I think, than what the settlement value should have been based on these facts.

    $100,000 – Settlement

    2019 – Virginia

    A man in his early 50s suffered a detached retina after a rear-end collision. The morning after the collision, he noticed floaters in his right eye. He ignored them, as he previously experienced floaters. Over the next few weeks, his vision deteriorated significantly. He saw an ophthalmologist who diagnosed him with a retinal tear and detachment. The ophthalmologist instructed him to lie, face down, as much as possible. His vision improved to 20/30, however, his vision before the accident was 20/20. He now experienced difficulty looking at a computer screen than before. The jury awarded him $500,000.  This is the opposite of the last case. This would seem to be a great deal of money for going from 20/20 to 20/30.

    $500,000 – Verdict

    2019 – New Jersey

    A woman in her early 50s suffers sphenoid wing meningioma behind the orbital canal. She gets surgery.  A known complication of the repair surgery is a crushing of the optic nerve that causes blindness.  After the surgery, she sees a neurologist for pain management. She sues the neurologist arguing that he failed to do a CT scan despite complaints of headaches and facial pain.  These are signs that there is a concern with her optical nerve. The neurologist argues he is just treating her for pain.  The neurologist also says he told her to see a neurosurgeon. But there is no notation in the file and the woman vehemently denies that he told her to see another doctor.  The defense lawyers clearly believed that the jury would not believe the neurologist. The doctor settles the case for $925,000, $75,000 less than his malpractice policy limit.

    $925,000 – Settlement

    2017 – Florida

    A man suffers from eye pressure, dizziness, hallucinations, pain, eye, and lost balance.  The plaintiff alleges this results from an injection of antibiotic Gentamicin was negligently injected into his eyes after cataract surgery.

    $13,653,245 – Verdict

    2017 – Arizona

    A construction worker suffers a severe penetrating injury to his right eye.  As a result, he lost his vision.  The plaintiff claims his injury results from an employee pulling his leg. An employee of defendant Caylor Construction pulled his leg, which caused the man to make an involuntary movement. The plaintiff contended that the employee’s unexpected physical contact caused the injury. The employee denied touching the plaintiff and contended he was negligent in failing to wear eye protection while on the job site. A jury determined the plaintiff was 10% at fault, the plaintiff’s employer was 10% at-fault (workers comp), and the defendants were 80% at fault.

    $1,600,000 – Verdict

    2014 – Oregon

    Plaintiff, having been diagnosed with glaucoma years earlier, sought treatment and monitoring of his glaucoma from the Defendant, as he advertised himself as a glaucoma specialist.  I guess he was just a self-proclaimed expert. After receiving poor treatment for five years, the Plaintiff had to undergo a left eye trabeculectomy (filtration surgery).  The plaintiff sued the Defendant for negligently failing to monitor properly and care for his glaucoma.  The case settled out of court for $250,000 in economic damages and $4,500,000 in noneconomic damages.

    $4,750,000 – Settlement

    2014 – New York

    Plaintiff, a 16-year-old girl, was visiting her boyfriend when another person in the home discharged a pellet gun, striking Plaintiff in the face.  Because of the location of the pellet, it could not be removed, causing the Plaintiff to experience several weeks of headaches and permanent residual impairment of her vision.  This is awful anyway, but I think these cases are a thousand times worse when we are talking about a 16-year-old with her whole life ahead of her.   The plaintiff’s eye injury lawyer did something you don’t often see.  They filed and won a motion for summary judgment.  This means the defendant is found responsible as a matter of law.  So the case proceeds on damages only.   This tells me it was a slam dunk case.   The plaintiff’s expert opined that because of the location of the pellet, it could not be safely removed and that any type of future trauma sustained could cause a shift in the pellet’s position.  This case reached an out-of-court settlement before the jury rendered a verdict.

    $826,080 – Settlement

    2014 – New York

    Plaintiff, an undocumented immigrant, was working at a renovation when a nail ricocheted backward, piercing his left eye, causing permanent damage.  The plaintiff sustained a rupture of the globe of his left eye and endured several procedures and surgeries.  The plaintiff sued his employer and the premises’ owner of the renovation site.  The plaintiff’s employer was dismissed, and the matter proceeded to trial against the premises’ owner.  The plaintiff claimed he had requested protective eyewear but was instructed to work without eyewear. The plaintiff’s suit contends that the work site failed to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to the project’s workers. The plaintiff sought recovery of past and future medical expenses, past and future lost earnings, and damages for past and future pain and suffering.  The plaintiff’s wife sought recovery of damages for loss of consortium.  After a two-week trial, and $2,939,000 verdict, the parties negotiated a post-trial settlement and the Defendant’s insurer agreed to a $2.65 million settlement.  The amount was broken down as $45,000 for past and future medical costs, $345,000 for past and future lost earnings capability, $2,500,000 for past and future pain and suffering, and $49,000 for past and future costs of medication.

    $2,650,000 – Settlement

    2012 – Maryland

    Plaintiff, 59 years old, treated with the Defendant doctor for diabetic retinopathy from two years. Defendant determined that Plaintiff’s condition had progressed to proliferative diabetic retinopathy.  While Plaintiff conceded that her left eye vision could not have been saved, she argued that the Defendant failed to treat her right over for over a year, allowing her vision to go from good to blind.  The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice suit claiming negligence and failure to timely treat her condition.  The defendant denied all allegations and contended that his treatment was safe, appropriate, and conservative.  He further claimed that Plaintiff’s heart condition prevented further treatment.  He asserted that her left eye’s vision was stabilized, but the vision in her right eye was lost because of a sudden and unexpected retinal detachment.  A Baltimore County jury, which usually gives doctors the benefit of the doubt, obviously saw it differently.

    $1,000,000 – Verdict

    Example Maryland Vision Loss Cases

    Getting a Lawyer

    Our law firm has successfully handled vision loss cases in motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and product liability cases.  Call my office at 800-553-8082 and let’s figure out together whether you have a viable claim for compensation.  You can also get an online consultation here.
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