Some states have limits on the amount of damages a person is able to recover from certain types of personal injury lawsuits, particularly medical malpractice lawsuits. In Louisiana, for example, there is a cap on the amount an injured patient is able to recover from medical malpractice cases. The cap is $500,000. There is also a cap of $500,000 on damages for claims against government agencies.
Louisiana also limits damages in car accidents under a “no pay, no play” rule. This rule makes it so that drivers cannot collect the first $15,000 of bodily injury damages if those drivers are uninsured or underinsured.
Arguments Over the Constitutionality of Non-Economic Damage Caps
The constitutionality of non-economic damage caps in medical malpractice cases has been under vigorous debate for decades. Some states, like Louisiana, have upheld the constitutionality of these caps. Others have struck them down under various arguments, a few of which are listed below. The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet taken up the issue for a final ruling.
- Argument: non-economic damage caps violate the victim’s right to trial by jury. Because, historically, juries are the decisionmakers regarding liability and how much damages to award in tort cases, some courts have struck down damage caps saying that the state limiting a jury’s decision on damages as unconstitutional.
- Argument: non-economic damage caps violate separation of powers. Critics of caps say that when legislatures attempt to impose arbitrary caps on juries, which are a function of the judicial system, they are violating separation of powers.
- Argument: non-economic damage caps violate equal protection guarantees. Courts in some states have found that there is no rational relationship between the legislature’s intended reasons for non-economic damage caps and treating people with severe injuries differently from people with lower non-economic damage rewards.
If you suffer injury as the result of medical malpractice, speak to a personal injury attorney.