Is There a Cap on Damages in Personal Injury Cases?
- posted: Sep. 19, 2022
Texas law provides a way for parties who were injured as a result of another person’s negligent or reckless actions to recover damages in court. Unfortunately, Texas state law also puts a limit on those damages in some cases.
Damages available in personal injury lawsuits can be put into two groups: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages can be further broken down into economic damages and non-economic damages.
Damages are limited in three types of cases:
- Medical malpractice cases
- Personal injury cases in which the government is the defendant
- Personal injury cases in which punitive damages are awarded
Damage caps in medical malpractice cases
In 2003, Texas passed a statute to limit damages available to defendants in medical malpractice cases. It placed a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages against any one defendant and $750,000 in non-economic damages overall. A plaintiff can sue multiple persons and entities. For instance, a plaintiff in a birth trauma case may sue the obstetrician and the hospital where the delivery took place. In that case, the plaintiff may obtain a $250,000 judgment of non-economic damages against each defendant for a total of $500,000. No matter how many defendants are named, however, the total judgment for non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case in Texas cannot exceed $750,000.
Personal injury cases in which the government is the defendant
It is difficult to sue government representatives and agencies because they often have some level of qualified immunity. Even if you are able to maintain an action against the government for personal injuries, your recovery will be limited. When the defendant is the state, a municipality or emergency service organizations (like police officers or EMTs), the overall limit on damages is $250,000 per injured person and $500,000 per incident. If the defendant is another type of government entity, such as the federal government, damages are capped at $100,000 per injured person and $300,000 per incident.
Personal injury cases in which punitive damages are awarded
A plaintiff must specifically request punitive damages in a personal injury case. If punitive damages are awarded, they are capped based upon the amount of economic damages awarded in the case. Punitive damages cannot exceed an amount that is two times the amount of economic damages, plus the amount of non-economic damages, and in no event can they exceed $750,000. If economic damages are not awarded, punitive damages are capped at $200,000.
The Leland Reinhard Law Firm represents people injured in all types of accidents in Texas. Call me today at 817-645-5400 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation.