If you are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit over a slip and fall, car accident, or other types of injury, you are probably pondering on the worth of your case. The amount you can get is determined by “damages” – your financial, mental and physical sufferings, and the defendant’s conduct.
Monetary damages are awarded to an injured person by the liable party, which can be the defendant or the insurance company. The exact amount can be negotiated among the parties involved through a settlement or ordered by a judge or jury after a court trial.
Damage caps for personal injury claims in Texas apply in these three circumstances:
- Medical malpractice
- Personal injury lawsuits where the plaintiff is awarded punitive damages
- Personal injury lawsuits filed against government unit
Limits on Punitive Damages
There are cases that conclude in damages against a defendant to carry as punishment for foully negligent deeds. Such damages do not serve as compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, or lost wages. Rather, the purpose of these damages is to send a message to a liable party that ought to be punished.
In the state of Texas, the amount of punitive damages cannot be higher than twice the amount of economic damages in addition to the amount equivalent to non-economic damages not exceeding $750,000 or $200,000, whatever is bigger.
Medical Malpractice Cases
The Lone Star State enacted The Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform Act of 2003 that capped the highest amount an individual can get for non-economic damages. Under the state law, an individual can take legal action for all the economic damages he or she sustained, but the limits apply when computing for non-economic damages. An injured patient can file a lawsuit against a healthcare practitioner or a doctor for as much as $250,000 and all healthcare assistance involved for as much as $250,000, provided that it does not exceed $500,000 once all the costs incurred in the incident are summed up. Hence, the limit to the amount an individual can claim from non-economic damages is $750,000.
In wrongful death cases caused by medical malpractice, the maximum amount for overall claim is $500,000.
Personal Injury Claim Against Government Units
Government units enjoy immunity from legal responsibility in personal injury claims and, in cases they are held liable, there is a limit on the amount that can be claimed. When a person gets injured because of negligence by the state, the police, a municipality, or other government entities, the limit for every person is $250,000 but the total amount of damages for a single incident should not be more than $500,000.
There are certain government units that impose maximum monetary damages of $100,000 per individual and $300,000 for every incident.
How the Caps Affect Personal Injury Lawsuits
Over the past 30 years, the rationale behind the limits has been disputed. Do they uphold justice and an efficient legal system? If you want to know how the limits will affect your case, talk to a personal injury attorney.
There are situations when the law may hinder victims from obtaining the compensation they need for their complete recovery. Sometimes this will take place when the liable party’s insurance coverage does not pay the all of the damages or there is a cap to the amount that can be claimed.
In Texas, the caps for damages exist because the judicial system has to set limitations on the value of a lawsuit.
The main purpose of damage is to ward off frivolous lawsuits. Frivolous lawsuits are the complaints filed by mooch seeking for some quick money or by a person who has a hidden agenda other than getting just monetary compensation. Generally, it’s a lawsuit brought by an attorney or client that does not hold merit and is founded on insignificant legal claims or doubtful facts. The purpose of lawsuits is to provide compensation to those who have sustained undeserved damages because of negligence or lack of slight diligence, not for frivolous reasonings.
The core of personal injury law is to provide compensation and take the victim back into a condition as before the occurrence and to make the liable party responsible to deter further incidents and suffering.
The idea is that frivolous claims cause unnecessary troubles on corporations, medical doctor, government units, small businesses, and flood the legal system with claims that squandered taxpayer money and business’ money. While the taxpayer’s money were emphasized, the main reason was that such lawsuits were harmful for business and, consequently, detrimental for the economy. Frivolous lawsuits were not good for organization and businesses that were being targeted, so the government had to do something.