Good health is truly priceless. Just one example from a movie is Bryan Cranston’s character in The Upside, who lives in a mansion and can afford to go to the opera whenever he chooses but would give anything to be able to walk again. If an infinite amount of money would not give you back your health, how much, then, is appropriate to award in a personal injury lawsuit by a plaintiff who has suffered catastrophic injuries? Each state has its own laws about damages caps in personal injury lawsuits. If you have suffered serious injuries in a car accident and are thinking about filing a lawsuit, contact a Mobile car accident attorney.
Non-Economic Damages and the General Damages Multiplier
The plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits can sue for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include past and future medical bills, property damage, and past and future lost income. These expenses are quantifiable, although how much income the plaintiff would have earned if they had not been injured is somewhat open to interpretation, especially if you factor in pay raises, retirement savings, and other hypothetical increases in income. Non-economic damages are compensation for non-financial losses, such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Courts can also award punitive damages for if a defendant acted deliberately or consciously with fraud, malice, oppression, or wantonness.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Damages Caps in Alabama
If an injured plaintiff requires 24-hour care for the rest of his or her life, that can result in millions of dollars in medical expenses. Juries are more likely to award higher amounts for non-economic damages when medical expenses are high, which insurance companies know and can result in a bigger settlement. There are, however, caps in Alabama for punitive damages.
- The maximum amount for punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit is three times compensatory damages not to exceed $1.5 million.
- The greatest amount a court can require a small business to pay in a personal injury settlement is $50,000 or 10 percent of the company’s net worth, whichever is greater.
- The cap on damages to be paid by a municipality is $100,000 per injured plaintiff or $300,000 per accident.
Keep in mind that these are caps on how much each defendant can be required to pay. If you file separate lawsuits against different defendants, you may be able to get more than these amounts.
Contact the Stevenson Klotz Law Firm About Car Accident Cases
Even though Alabama law imposes damages caps, it is often possible to win a greater amount in a personal injury lawsuit than the settlement amount your car insurance company offers you. A personal injury lawyer can help you choose the best course of action. Contact Stevenson Klotz in Mobile, Alabama to discuss your case and to see whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.
Following graduation from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Eric Stevenson held a number of positions including Assistant State Attorney in the First Judicial Circuit of Florida. Eric has been practicing with partner Christopher Klotz since 2015 litigating personal injury and car accidents in Alabama and Florida.