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Missouri Damage Caps

August 16, 2021Personal Injury

If you are injured in a personal injury accident in Missouri, you may be surprised to learn that the state’s damage caps could limit your compensation. Legislators set caps on compensation, usually on a state-by-state basis, to avoid excessive verdicts that are based on emotion rather than reason. 

Damage Caps in Personal Injury Cases

Fortunately, Missouri does not impose a cap on economic or non-economic damages in most personal injury claims unless it is based on medical negligence. That means there is no limit on medical costs, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, damage to property, pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc. For example, if you suffer a severe injury resulting in $500,000 in medical bills and lost income, you can be awarded compensation to cover those losses fully. 

Non-economic damages compensate victims for their physical and emotional suffering and are not easy to calculate. Many insurance companies and personal injury attorneys use a multiplier method to calculate how much compensation you are owed for subjective losses. This method takes your amount of economic damages (i.e., medical bills, lost income, property damage) and multiplies that figure by a number, typically between 1.5 and five. The multiplier number varies case by case, and is dependent on the details of the case and severity of injuries. The more significant the impact of your injuries on your life, the higher the multiplier. If your claim makes it to trial, the value of your non-economic damages will be decided by a judge or jury. 

Cap on Punitive Damages

Punitive damages can be awarded in cases involving gross negligence, malice, or fraud. These damages are rare but intended to punish the defendant and warn against similar behavior by them and others in the future. Punitive damage caps are the most common limitations on recoveries from lawsuits. Federal laws limit awards of excessive punitive damages, but some states impose even more restrictions. 

However, in 2014 the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that a cap on punitive damages was unconstitutional. As a result, there is currently no cap on punitive damages.

Damage Caps in Medical Malpractice Claims

The state does impose damage caps in medical malpractice claims, but only on non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering). They are as follows: 

  • Non-economic damages cannot exceed $400,000
  • If the medical malpractice case involved a catastrophic injury or wrongful death, non-economic damages cannot exceed $700,000

Under Senate Bill 239, these limits increase by 1.7% every year. As of 2021, the damage caps are currently set at $442,574, and for a catastrophic injury or death, $787,671.

Caps on Government Claims

Lastly, damages awarded in personal injury claims filed against the state or municipal government are subject to state-imposed caps. Economic damages cannot exceed $441,130, and non-economic damages cannot exceed $460,499 as of 2021. 

To ensure you recover the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to, schedule a free consultation with a highly experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer.

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