What is a Damages Cap?

Whenever you are suing someone in a personal injury case, the usual claim is that you want to be compensated with money damages in order to be paid for the injury that was suffered. As a general rule, there are two classes of damages. The first one is called economic damages that include the specific costs that can be evidenced by medical bills and other official receipts. The second category would be the non-economic damages. Non-economic damages would be the amount for emotional stress and other forms that cannot be easily calculated. The well known damages cap only applies to the non-economic damages which are subject to approval by the court. As of now, each state has its own damages cap. The federal government likewise imposes a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages on medical malpractice claims.

Reasons for Damage Caps

Some people who are against the damages cap might argue that this set-up will be unfair to the people who really have a lawful claim.  Some would even question the authority of the state to actually decide on the case when the jurors who are competent on deciding the issue even believe that the plaintiff deserves more.

Although it is but reasonable for a person to ask such question, there is also more reason on putting cap to the damages that could be given as an award to a claimant. For one, it can be a source of abuse by the jurors in awarding too much to the plaintiff. It can even be a violation of due process for the defendant to pay such a huge amount. There are also economic reasons why the state decides to put a damages cap. To give an example, if the defendant is a medical doctor charged with medical malpractice, he would have to earn more to be able to pay the award by the court. In this way, he will have to get more professional fees from his clients.

The damages cap also prevents the people from using the judicial system to be able to recover unjustified claims. The damages should be awarded only to compensate people who indeed suffere injury.

Can a Jury Get Around Damages Caps?

Most of the time, the juries are not aware that there are damages cap. This is because of the reasonn that they were not instructed by the lawyers. Because of this, they award damages only based on what they think is fair. After all, dissatisfaction with the ward given can be subject to appeal to a higher tribunal.

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