What Are Damage Caps?

In a lawsuit, the money awarded to a plaintiff is known as ‘damages.’ This financial recovery may take the form of economic damages and/or non-economic damages. In some states, there is a ‘cap’ (or limit) placed on the size of the settlement awarded for a successful suit.

In the state of California, there is generally no set cap for damages in personal injury cases. However, there are some notable exceptions.

In California, there are damage caps on non-economic damages, and there are damage caps in cases involving medical malpractice claims.

Additionally, while there is a cap on personal injury cases, the cap is dramatically higher for wrongful death cases.

Currently, the damage cap for non-economic damages in a California personal injury case is $350,000. The damage cap for a wrongful death settlement is $500,000. These damage caps for personal injury cases will be adjusted and raised $40,000 each year to reflect inflation.

What Are Examples of Economic and Non-Economic Damages?

Economic damages include but are not limited to the following:

  • Costly alterations to a home to accommodate new disabilities.
  • Lost earning capacity.
  • Lost wages.
  • Medical bills.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Property damage.

Non-economic damages may include the following:

  • Disfigurement.
  • Humiliation.
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress.
  • Loss of companionship or consortium.
  • Lost quality of life.
  • Physical pain and suffering.
  • Psychological distress such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

What California Personal Injury Cases Have Damage Caps?

Medical malpractice cases have damage caps in California. Medical malpractice can result in personal injury, and, as such, plaintiffs can sue for damages. Typically, medical malpractice derives from some form of negligence or carelessness on the part of medical staff, resulting in the injury of their patients.

For many, medical malpractice is among the most frightening of personal injury cases. We trust physicians with our lives and the lives of our loved ones. We are expected to lower our guards around doctors and be at our most vulnerable when under their care. To think that their negligence could bring harm to us or our family members can be very difficult to stand. It is rather unfortunate that medical malpractice cases have a damage cap in place, considering the pain that such injuries can bring to the survivors. California’s lawmakers have passed legislation to keep these caps in place, in part to protect the medical profession and keep good doctors practicing in the state.

What Are Common Examples of Medical Malpractice Cases?

Examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Accidentally leaving surgical tools inside the patient’s body.
  • Anesthesia accidents.
  • Failure to alert a patient to the risks and provide informed consent.
  • Failure to diagnose a life-threatening medical condition.
  • Failure to follow up with a patient after a procedure.
  • Infections caused by hospital equipment.
  • Misdiagnosing a patient’s medical condition.
  • Performing surgery on the wrong limb or body part.
  • Performing surgery on the wrong patient entirely.
  • Prematurely discharging a patient from a hospital.
  • Prescribing medication that conflicts with other meds and endangers the patient.

What Personal Injury Cases Do Not Have Damage Caps?

In general, most California personal injury cases do not have damage caps for economic damages. That means if you’ve been injured in a car accident, assault, construction accident, slip-and-fall accident, animal attack, defective product, and many other similar types of accidents, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries.

If you are seeking economic damages – like medical expenses or lost wages – there is no cap on the amount that you may demand. However, please note that just because you demand a large number does not mean that you will necessarily recover that amount. The settlement reflects the damage done to your body and property. Your lawyer would be able to help guide you through the decision of whether or not to also sue for punitive damages, wherein you may be able to recover a settlement if the defendant’s actions were especially heinous examples of wrongful conduct.

If you are seeking compensation for non-economic damages, there may be a cap on how much you are allowed to demand. Additionally, as noted, California has a firm damage cap in place for medical malpractice cases.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you’ve suffered an injury or if you’ve lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident, it’s important that you pursue financial compensation with the help of an experienced lawyer. There may be damage caps on what you are allowed to recover in a financial settlement, but you should speak with your personal injury lawyer first to determine whether or not these caps apply to your unique case. While we endeavor to supply helpful information online, the truth is that every case is different—the only way to provide an accurate estimation of what you should potentially expect to recover.

Our Rosemead-based law firm has years of experience representing clients just like yourself. We strive to provide a client-first approach to our legal services because we understand that, for our clients, this is no mere legal case. These injuries and the accidents that caused them are very likely life-altering events that left you deeply affected and scarred. By right, you should recover the maximum compensation for your injuries and return to life without concerns about the financial costs of recovery. Speak with our legal team to determine if we would be a good fit for you and your personal injury case.

To schedule your initial free case evaluation, please call or text 626-280-6000.