Is there a cap on the damages I can recover in a personal injury claim?

Categorized: Worker's Compensation

Is there a cap on the damages I can recover in a personal injury claim?

Unlike many states, Pennsylvania does not cap the noneconomic damages recoverable in personal injury claim. It also doesn’t limit economic damages, as is the case with many other states.

The Pennsylvania Constitution states that while lawmakers may address maximum and minimum compensation for workers injured on the job, “in no other case shall the General Assembly limit the amount to be recovered” in cases of wrongful death and personal injury. But damage caps apply in a personal injury claim against a government entity.

What is the damage cap if filing a claim against the government?

Governmental immunity doesn’t necessarily mean a local agency can’t be liable when negligence of a government entity or employee causes physical harm. However, damages recoverable in these claims are limited.

Pennsylvania has a statutory damage cap of $500,000 when the injury claim involves a local government entity. If filing against a Commonwealth agency or entity, §8528 of the Pennsylvania Code limits damages to $25,000 in favor of one plaintiff or $1,000,000 “in the aggregate.”

Damages recoverable from the Commonwealth are:

  • lost earnings and earning capacity;
  • pain and suffering;
  • medical expenses;
  • loss of consortium; and
  • property losses (except for actions involving potholes and sinkholes on the highways.

 

Damages recoverable from a local government agency are similar, but also include loss of support. Pain and suffering damages are available in cases of death or permanent loss of bodily function, disfigurement, or dismemberment.

How much compensation can I seek in a personal injury claim?

A personal injury claim against a non-government entity allows recovery of the same damages, though without the cap. The value of your personal injury claim is dependent on the types of damages sustained.

For instance, damages related to medical care and treatment recover compensation for:

  • the ambulance;
  • emergency room visit;
  • surgery;
  • hospitalization;
  • imaging tests;
  • medication;
  • nursing; and
  • physical therapy.

 

It could also include estimated future costs if additional medical care is going to be required. Damages for property loss will depend on the extent of the damage to a vehicle or other property damaged in any type of accident.

This might include a laptop you were holding in a slip and fall, for example. Cost to replace a vehicle or other property may be included if the item or vehicle cannot be repaired.

Your lost wages will depend on your typical wages or salary and how long you are out of work recovering. It could also account for future time away from work if you will require additional treatment that puts you out of work temporarily.

If you’re unable to return to work or must return to a lower-paying job, lost earning capacity may require addressing your:

  • age;
  • education level; and
  • previous earnings.

 

One of the most common noneconomic damages is pain and suffering, which can be awarded when there has been a significant amount of discomfort or there are ongoing issues such as chronic pain. Mental anguish or emotional distress are other examples of compensation recoverable in the claim.

Make sure you go over your losses and how much your claim is worth with a lawyer in your local area. Cordisco & Saile LLC assists injured clients in Warminster and nearby communities. Reach us at 215-642-2335 to set up a consultation.

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