What Is A Personal Injury Cap For Non-Economic Damages?

Those visiting our site will recognize how strongly we believe in a person’s right to fair compensation. This is even more true when a person’s injury was caused by a massive organization’s gross negligence. Sadly, sometimes state, local, and federal governments limit the amount that a person can receive in non-economic damages. This is known as capping. There are arguments on both sides. 

The first thing you need to know is that there are three basic types of damages. One type is economic. Those are your medical bills, wages lost, and everything else easy to calculate. The second type is non-economic. Those are different because they can’t be calculated the same way. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and these are what governments like to limit. The third type is punitive. These damages are punishments imposed by a judge because the level of negligence called for them.

Those who support non-economic damage caps believe that the caps help keep premiums and rate hikes low. Many judges have allowed plaintiffs verdicts in excess of these caps based on the argument that they do not, indeed, reduce premiums — and because they certainly are not fair to the injured party.

Judge Jose M. Rodriguez recently ruled that a Florida law limiting non-economic damages was unconstitutional for this reason and harmed thousands of victims of medical malpractice. He said that the very concept of non-economic damages was outdated and violates “equal protection under the Constitution.”

Part of the reason he gave is inflation. The law limited caps to $350,000 which would be $750,000 when he made the ruling in 2018. This had been the plaintiff’s argument and the judge agreed.

There are other “caps” that have nothing to do with damages. For example, we’ve all heard the phrase “statute of limitations.” These legal codes essentially place a cap on the amount of time a person has to make a particular case. Many states limit personal injury cases to two to five years.

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