If you are injured in Texas because of the negligence of a person or an entity, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to obtain compensation for your injuries. Courts award compensation in the form of damages to plaintiffs in these suits. However, there are caps – limits to the amount of money you can recover in damages from the negligent party.
Consult a Texas automobile accident attorney for a first-hand explanation of how damage caps affect your case.
What are the Texas Damage Caps?
First, here’s an introduction to damages.
If you are injured in an accident that resulted from the negligence of an individual or entity, you can claim compensation in the form of economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are the damages that compensate you for your actual losses from the accident. For example, if you were involved in a car accident where you broke your arm, your economic damages will include:
- Medical costs such as surgery, physician appointments, prescription medication and medical equipment
- Lost wages for the days you spent away from work nursing the injury
- Damage to property such as your vehicle or bicycle
- Lost earning capacity if the injury is permanently debilitating or makes it impossible for you to continue doing the work you were engaged in.
Non-economic damages include compensation for the physical, emotional and mental pain and suffering brought by the injury. It also includes compensation for disfigurement, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, reputational injury and other pecuniary losses.
Originally, there were no caps for the amount of damages a plaintiff could recover from injury. Over time, caps were introduced to curb against frivolous suits that were congesting the court system. These suits were filed not by people who were legitimately injured but by people with ulterior motives. Damage caps barred that. However, the caps were introduced only for certain cases:
- Medical malpractice suits
- Punitive damages
- Suits against public entities
1. Medical malpractice suits
For injuries resulting from medical malpractice, you can sue for the entire amount of economic damages. However, non-economic damages are capped at $250,000 against doctors and $250,000 against a healthcare provider. Furthermore, damages caps are curbed at $500,000 for all medical care providers involved. That means the maximum non-economic damages a person can recover in a medical malpractice suit are $750,000.
2. Punitive damages
Recognized in Texas statutes as exemplary damages, punitive damages are damages awarded to punish a person for injuries caused by malice or gross negligence. They are capped at the larger of:
- $200,000 or
- Two times the amount of economic damages plus an equal amount of non-economic damages up to a maximum of $750,000.
For example, if the accident you were involved in was caused by the defendant’s gross negligence and it resulted in you breaking your leg, you can sue for punitive damages. If you are awarded economic damages amounting to $150,000 and non-economic damages amounting to $200,000, your punitive damages will be capped at $500,000.
3. Suits against public entities
Government entities are majorly immune from personal injury liability in Texas. However, in the few times they are open to personal injury liability, damages are capped at $250,000 for a single person and $500,000 for a single event.
If you suffered personal injury from an automobile accident, schedule a consult with one of our Texas auto accident lawyers about know whether damages caps limit the amount of compensation you are eligible for and by how much.