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. 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. If you read graphs regularly, you would expect Washington, D.C. and Virginia to be reversed because Virginia as a whole typically has more conservative verdicts.
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.
In Maryland, any vision loss should be a “cap” case, which means you would get Maryland’s statutory cap of $845,000 for an accident occurring in April 2020, plus whatever your economic losses might be. If it is a malpractice case, the cap is $890,000.
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. 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 three categories: loss of earnings, medical expenses, 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 just begun in earnest in 2020.
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 be able to read a summary paragraph and think your case is identical factually or that all the 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.
- Alabama, 2020 | $100,000 Settlement. 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.
- Virginia, 2019 | $500,000 Verdict. 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.
- New Jersey, 2019 | $925,000 Settlement. A woman in her early 50s suffers sphenoid wing meningioma behind the orbital canal. She gets surgery. A known complication 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 doctor settles the case for $925,000, $75,000 less than his malpractice policy limit.
- Florida, 2017 | $13,653,245 Verdict. 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.
- Arizona, 2017 | $1,600,000 Verdict. 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 Corp., pulled his leg, which caused the man to make an involuntary movement. The plaintiff contended that De La Vara’s unexpected physical contact caused the injury. Defendant De La Vara 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 and the defendants were 80% at fault.
- Oregon, 2014 | $4,750,000 Settlement. 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 properly monitor and care for his glaucoma. The case was settled out of court for $250,000 in economic damages and $4,500,000 in noneconomic damages.
- New York, 2014 | $826,080 Settlement. Plaintiff, a 16-year-old girl, was visiting her boyfriend when another individual 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 did something extremely rare in a malpractice case. They filed and won a motion for summary judgment. So the case proceeds on damages only. This tells me it was a slam dunk case. Doctors accused of malpractice can almost always find a doctor to defend them, no matter what. 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.
- New York, 2014: | $2.65 Million Settlement. 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.
- Maryland, 2012 | $1,000,000 Verdict. 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.
Example Maryland Vision Loss Cases
- Burley v.Western Maryland Eye Center (2017): Lawsuit alleging eye surgeon used the wrong implant model during surgery.
- Proctor v. Prince George’s Hospital (2017): Lawsuit alleging prolonged hypotension and anemia caused permanent vision loss.
- Wallick v. Johns Hopkins (2017): Lawsuit against ophthalmologist after surgery to correct double vision leads to blindness.
- Dorchy v. Doctor (2017): Lawsuit against ophthalmologist after the retina is perforated during cataract surgery.
- Grinath v. Azar Eye Surgery Center (2016): Lawsuit alleging doctors failed to properly measure the victim’s eye before surgery, leading to blurred vision and additional surgeries.
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.