A gubernatorial task force studying the problem of increasingly scarce and expensive liability insurance recommended today a $250,000 cap on some damage awards and a $100,000 cap on awards against municipalities.
The cap of $250,000 would apply to awards for damages other than those that result in economic hardship, such as loss of income or hospital bills. These other damages are commonly referred to as "pain and suffering" awards. The cap on municipal awards would bring municipalities the same protection that the Maryland state government now enjoys.
The 23-member task force, which was headed by Lt. Gov. Joseph Curran and included representatives from the insurance industry, consumer groups, nonprofit organizations and the law profession, was formed during the summer to seek solutions to problems in the insurance industry that have been felt nationwide.
The problem of maintaining adequate insurance coverage has surfaced in a variety of professions and organizations, including lawyers, midwives, day care center owners, municipal officials, doctors and tavern owners.
Industry analysts trace the problem to the increasing amount and cost of litigation, as well as aggressive industry price-cutting and loss of investment income.
Among the other task force recommendations, which will be presented in the next two weeks to Gov. Harry Hughes for consideration in his 1986 legislative package, is a controversial proposal to allow legal costs to be recovered from a person who goes to trial after rejecting a settlement offer, if the trial produces a judgment that is less than the amount originally offered as a settlement.