Is There a Limit for Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?


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When you are injured as the result of the negligence of someone else, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Whether it’s a car accident, product liability claim, or medical malpractice, there are specific damages for which you able to sue. These damages may be limited by state statutes and legal concepts.

What Types of Damages Are Involved in Personal Injury Lawsuits?

There are two types of damages that a plaintiff can sue for in personal injury lawsuits: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages reimburse the plaintiff for the injuries caused by the defendant. The goal of compensatory damages is to make the plaintiff “whole” or to place the injured party “in a position substantially equivalent” to the one he or she would have had if the injury had not occurred.

Punitive damages are recoverable in Pennsylvania, but they are not awarded in every case. In cases where the jury determines that the actions of the defendant was egregious in nature, showing a reckless disregard for the rights and well-being of others, punitive damages may be awarded to the plaintiff. The purpose of punitive damages is not to make the plaintiff whole like compensatory damages, but rather to punish the defendant for his or her actions and to dissuade others from similar behavior in the future.

What Is Included in Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages are made up of economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are concrete costs that the plaintiff has paid out or lost due to the injury. They also include amounts that the plaintiff has missed out on or will miss out on in the future. Economic damages include:

  • Medical Expenses: The plaintiff may recover the cost of all medical expenses related to the injury, past and future.
  • Loss of Wages: The injured person may receive damages for wages lost due to his or her injury. That includes past and future wages that will be lost resulting from an inability to work due to the injury.
  • Loss of Earning Capacity: If evidence shows that the defendant’s action (or inaction) that caused injury to the plaintiff impairs his or her ability to earn an income, the plaintiff may receive damages for loss of earning capacity.
  • Incidental Expenses: If a plaintiff incurs other expenses due to his or her injury, damages may be awarded. Incidental expenses include things like household help hired because the plaintiff can no longer perform certain tasks, modifications made to his or her home to accommodate wheelchair access, etc.
  • Property Damage: If there was any type of property damage (car accident, defective product, etc.), the plaintiff may recover the costs to repair or replace the property.

Non-economic damages include all other categories of injury damages. Because the amount assigned to non-economic damages cannot be determined by past losses and future calculations, juries must make subjective evaluations of the amount awarded. Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and Suffering: The injured person may be awarded damages for past and future physical pain caused by the injury.
  • Emotional Distress: The plaintiff may recover damages for the severe mental distress that the injury has caused.
  • Disfigurement: If the injury to the plaintiff causes permanent disfigurement, he or she may be able to recover damages. This includes scars, amputations, limps, etc.
  • Loss of Enjoyment: The plaintiff may recover damages associated with the inability to take pleasure in the things that he or she took pleasure in prior to the injury. This can include hobbies, exercise, the ability to have children, and the loss of his or her sense of well-being.
  • Loss of Consortium: These damages are designed to compensate the plaintiff’s spouse (and sometimes children) for the loss of relationship related matters.

What Are the Limitations on Recoverable Damages in Pennsylvania?

Each state regulates its own limitations on recoverable damages in personal injury lawsuits. In Pennsylvania, the following apply:

  • There is no cap for compensatory damages.
  • There is a cap for punitive damages that equals two times the actual damages.
  • Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state. That means that if a plaintiff shares responsibility for the event that caused the injury, they can recover damages only when they have less than 50% responsibility.
  • There are special limitations placed when a personal injury claim is filed against governmental agencies.

Why You Need a Personal Injury Attorney

Personal injury cases are often complicated and require experienced attorneys and medical experts for you to have the most successful outcome. At Ross Feller Casey, we have those skilled attorneys along with knowledgeable medical doctors on staff. Because the non-economic and punitive damages can be quite subjective, you need the assistance and support of our legal team to make sure you are awarded the compensation you deserve.

Ross Feller Casey has a proven track record of winning multi-million recoveries and landmark verdicts in all types of personal injury lawsuits.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you need the expertise of the attorneys at Ross Feller Casey. We handle the most catastrophic of cases, and are here to guide you through the entire process. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.