August 22nd, 2012 - by DKRPA
Personal injury lawsuits can stem from a wide array of incidents. A car or bike accident can leave victims with broken bones, and any negligent or reckless driving that caused the wreck can justify a substantial compensatory award; or a poorly-maintained restaurant or building can lead to a slip-and-fall accident that causes serious injuries to unsuspecting patrons.
These are just two common ways in which personal injury lawsuits arise, and often the amount of money that is requested by the plaintiff sounds very high (almost too high). This number, however, reflects the medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income and many other financial, emotional and physical factors that affect the victim. Combined, these things justifiably add up to a large figure that can reach well into the millions of dollars.
When, or if, the jury sides with the plaintiff, that figure can be wholly or partially granted — but no matter the outcome, civil suits involving liability are capped by state law. Sometimes these caps can apply to the totality of a lawsuit or to individual claims made within the lawsuit (for example, “pain and suffering” could be capped at X dollars, “negligence” at Y dollars, etc.).
It is important to remember this when you hear of $25 million personal injury lawsuits that are upheld by a jury. The plaintiff simply isn’t going to walk out of court with a $25 million check, nor is it likely the plaintiff will receive anywhere close to $25 million once the compensation is paid off.
Missouri lawmakers recently tossed their liability caps, meaning other states may review their liability caps and reconsider their policy on the matter. But, in the meantime, victims in Florida and across much of the nation are unable to receive the entirety of their financial request in a liability suit.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “Missouri Court Rules for Unlimited Liability Payouts,” Steve Eder, Aug. 1, 2012
To learn more about liability caps and personal injury lawsuits, please visit our Boca Raton personal injury page.