If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence you may be entitled to receive compensation by way of a personal injury claim. Personal injury victims who successfully establish that a defendant’s negligence, recklessness or intentional actions caused them injuries are entitled to seek damages. However, there are damage cap laws that may put a maximum recovery amount on the award. These laws limit the victim’s ability to receive the full compensation to which they may be entitled to. This article will discuss damage cap laws and their effect on personal injury compensation awards.
It is important to know that there are a number of different types of damages that victims may be entitled to. These are generally broken down into two categories:
- Economic damages - these include those damages that have a direct economic impact on the victim. For example, an individual’s medical expenses for past treatment and future anticipated expenses. The victim may have had to take time off work and economic damages would include lost wages, disability or a decreased earning capacity. Determining some of these amounts may require an economic expert to explain how much money the victim would have expected to receive, for example, during their lifetime had the accident not occurred.
- Non-economic damages - these include losses that are not easily quantifiable into money. Such damages may include pain and suffering, mental distress and anguish. They are generally more difficult to calculate and require a jury to use their best judgment to determine how much a non-economic damages award will be.
Each state may decide to limit the amount of damages by placing a maximum cap on them. These may be done differently, for example, a state may choose to limit non-economic damages but not economic damages, other states may require non-economic damages to be within a certain percentage of economic damages. While some other states may limit damages for only certain types of cases such as medical malpractice cases. Yet others may choose to limit damage amounts in cases involving multiple payments so that one individual award cannot be more than a certain percentage over another claimant’s award.
It must be noted that some states have found placing damage caps to be unconstitutional. In other instances some have found that this limitation prevented the jury from fully performing its fact-finding duty. And other states have upheld these damage caps. Arguments made against damage caps state that they prevent the victim from being able to rightly recover or be fully made whole [https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/make_one_whole]. In addition, it is argued that they “create a disincentive for doctors or other defendants to take more preventative measures because they know that they can only be held accountable up to a certain degree”.
Individuals that are injured in personal injury cases such as slip and falls, car accidents, medical malpractice cases and other types of injuries require a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer will explain whether or not there are any applicable damage caps in the state.
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