Damages Caps for Beginners: How Does the Caps Work?

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Under the seventh amendment of the U.S constitution, the state gives every citizen the power to file for a civil rights case. Now most of these cases usually revolve around personal injuries sustained during any course of action.

The motive behind involving court in such matter is simple; to receive a settlement which would compensate for the damage caused.

However, the rightful compensation to be received in return of the damage caused, especially in personal injury cases, can be limited by a variety of state statutes and legal concepts.

First of all, it is important to understand the criteria of damage. Two main classes of damages have been defined, according to which the costs incurred as a result of the injury such as medical bills etc. come under the economic damages, while the emotional consequences relevant to the injury come under non-economic damages.

Now there have been instances, where the plaintiffs had received way much more compensation in cash, as compared to the damage caused. The best example of which is the McDonald's hot coffee case of 1992, where the plaintiff successfully sued McDonald's for a mind blowing $3 Million dollars on the basis of a spilled hot coffee.

In order to stop such extortion of money, new laws were introduced which limited the amount of money that could be awarded or given, in cases of non-economic damages. These limiting laws and reforms are known as damages caps.

The purpose of such laws was to discourage people from playing the "Lawsuit Lotto"- Bringing in a simple case and expecting to win huge bucks out of it.

As an initial reaction, you must think of it to be justified and fair. However, the introduction of these reforms has received a severe backlash.


Because the cases which appear in courts and demand such course of actions mostly involve the cases of medical malpractices.

Negligence, being the core of such cases, on part of the medical staff or doctors have permanent and serious consequences. Consequently, such actions need to be addressed properly when it comes to compensation.

The debate against these caps states that these redefined limits prevent the plaintiffs from getting a full, well-deserving compensation for the loss.

In case of Medical malpractices lawsuits and with a $250,000 dollar cap, malpractices have become rather expensive to prove. With lesser attorneys available and more money to be vested in running such cases, it has become hard for people to seek out justice. These damages caps instead of helping the people seem to help the businesses more.

Many would say that damages caps are a good thing. They prevent lawsuit-happy litigants from unnecessarily filing claims. But others argue that damages caps unfairly limit the recourse available to the injured.

While there exist plenty of arguments on both sides of the damages caps, the fact is that many states have considered instilling these caps while taking in regard the seriousness of medical malpractices.

Which means that new ways are introduced over time which try to cater the effected body more. Moreover, these caps are there to maintain a rightful balance between the people who have suffered and the paying authorities.