The debate on damages caps has been one of the biggest and longest-running focal points of “tort reform,” a term commonly used by powerful corporations as a pretense to limit their liability and pay victims as little as they possibly can. In essence, damages caps limit the amount of compensation victims are eligible to recover, and in various states, they may apply to certain types of damages in certain types of cases.
In Texas, there are laws that cap damages in injury-related lawsuits. However, you should know that in most “personal injury” lawsuits, that is, most cases like car accidents, trucking accidents, or slip and fall accidents, economic and non-economic damages are not capped for victims. This means most victims are entitled to a full and thorough recovery of the losses they incurred as a result of their injuries – from medical expenses and lost wages to pain and suffering.
Damages do apply in certain circumstances under Texas law, however. These generally include:
Below, our legal team at The Daspit Law Firm explains how damages caps work in these situations:
Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages in Texas, are a special form of damages awarded only in certain cases, upon request, and when defendants have committed some type of gross negligence or egregious intentional act. They aren’t awarded in most cases, but when they are, they provide more compensation to victims, and act as a form of further punishment against wrongdoers.
The formula for punitive damages caps in Texas requires a bit of math. Generally, exemplary damages cannot be more than the value of two times economic damages awarded to a victim plus the amount equal to their award for non-economic damages (up to $750,000), or, in cases where economic damages aren’t awarded, no more than $200,000. As an example, if an injured victim was awarded $100,000 in economic and $50,000 in non-economic damages, punitive damages, when available, would be capped at $250,000 (two times $100,000 plus the $50,000 in non-economic damages.)
Texas, along with many other U.S. states, caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. These are the “intangible” losses created by accidents and injuries, such and pain and suffering, emotional or mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. The cap depends on the situation involved:
Non-economic damages caps can also be calculated for any inflation since the law was initially written in 2003.
Personal injury lawsuits against government entities involve unique rules and procedures, as well as caps on damages. In cases involving state, city, and emergency service entities, damages are capped at $250,000 per person, and $500,000 for a single event. Cases involving government entities that are not a state, city, or emergency service entity have caps of $100,000 per person, and $300,000 for a single event.
The Daspit Law Firm is comprised of personal injury attorneys who leverage decades of collective experience to fight for injured victims and families across Houston and the state of Texas. If you have a potential case, including a case where damages caps may apply, pursuing the full and fair amount of compensation you deserve is essential. Learn how our team can help by contacting us for a FREE consultation.
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