This list is not exhaustive, since there are many types of personal injury claims and some come with different caps.
In personal injury cases – whether it be a car accident, medical malpractice, or wrongful death claim – the goal is to recover compensation. This money goes towards helping the victim recover from their injury, or helping surviving family members navigate the death of their loved one.
The compensation recovered in these claims is referred to as damages, and there are two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to anything that you can put a dollar value on, such as medical bills or the cost of a funeral. Non-economic damages refer to the trauma and emotional pain and suffering that was caused by the accident.
Economic damages are easy to calculate by using medical bills and other documents that show how much the injury has cost the victim. Calculating non-economic damages can be more challenging, according to the injury lawyers at Mickelsen Dalton. Attorneys do have access to common formulas used by insurance companies to calculate pain and suffering compensation, so they can at least give victims an estimate.
When it comes to putting caps on the amount of compensation that can be rewarded, it differs per state. Some put caps on economic damages, some do on non-economic damages, some do both, and some do neither.
Damage Caps in Personal Injury Claims
When it comes to personal injury claims, there are 11 states with caps on non-economic damages: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Tennessee. Hawaii also limits non-economic damages, but only applies these limits to pain and suffering damages. Other types of non-economic damages, like trauma or permanent disability, are not covered by the cap.
Other states have determined in court that their damage caps were unconstitutional. These states – Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Washington – have eliminated their caps and have not attempted to add new ones.
Oregon also declared its own cap on non-economic damages unconstitutional, but they reversed that decision years later. Ohio also found their caps unconstitutional, only to re-pass new ones that addressed the constitutionality issue.
Damage Caps in Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice claims have the most capped damages among the states. 26 states cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims, and six others have “total caps” that limit both economic and non-economic damages: Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Virginia. Some of these states do have an exemption for future medical care.
Colorado has two types of caps on medical malpractice damages, according to the personal injury attorneys at Manning Law. They have a cap on non-economic damages ($300,000), and also a total cap covering both types of damages ($1 million). Other states, like Alabama and Georgia, had their medical malpractice damage caps removed in state courts. Overall, 23 states have caps on non-economic damages, and 22 have no caps.
There’s More to Know
This list is not exhaustive, since there are many types of personal injury claims and some come with different caps. For example, these four states prohibit damage caps in wrongful death claims: New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah. There are also eight states that put caps on non-economic damages in product liability cases.
No matter what state your claim is in, your best bet is to contact a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer will know all applicable state laws and can give you expert guidance, as well as a settlement estimate. They can calculate a damage estimate based on these laws and formulas used by insurance companies.