Missouri Damage Caps

Big corporations have spent decades marketing the myth of the “frivolous lawsuit.” According to them, the only way to protect helpless corporations from the people they hurt is to limit (“cap”) how much money (“damages”) those injured people can receive at trial.  

In Missouri, whether damages can be capped depends on two main factors–the type of damage, and the defendant. 

Economic Damage Caps

Economic damages, also known as “compensatory damages” and “actual damages.” It means the money lost and the debts incurred because of the injury, including medical bills, lost wages and property damage.  

  • Can economic damages be capped? Sometimes. For the most part, economic damages are not capped by law.  
  • Sovereign immunity defendants. An exception exists when the defendant is the state of Missouri or a municipal government. Pursuant to state law, economic damages cannot exceed the amounts set forth in the statutory formula.. 

Non-economic Damage Caps

The disruptions to your daily life, physical and emotional pain, the loss of consortium and companionship, overwhelming grief–just because these losses don’t have billing statements doesn’t make them less real. The lack of a billing statement only gives them their name. 

  • Can non-economic damages be capped? Again, not usually. However, there are a couple of important exceptions.   
  • Sovereign immunity defendants. State law also caps non-economic damages against state and municipal governments.  
  • Medical malpractice defendants. Beginning in 2015, Missouri law capped non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, based on severity of the injury. The law also provides for an annual increase of 1.7%.  
  • “Non-catastrophic” injuries have damage caps that began at $400,000 in 2015.  
  • “Catastrophic” injuries have damage caps that began at $700,000 in 2015. A catastrophic injury is defined as quadriplegia, paraplegia, the loss of two or more limbs, significant and permanent cognitive impairment, irreversible failure of a major organ, or significant loss of vision.

Punitive Damage Caps

Punitive damages, also known as “exemplary damages.” Sometimes, the behavior that leads to an injury is so egregious that it needs to be punished.  

  • Can punitive damages be capped? No. In 2014, the Missouri Supreme Court held that capping punitive damages violated the right to a trial by jury. 
  • Sovereign immunity defendants. Missouri law states, “No award for damages on any claim against a public entity…shall include punitive or exemplary damages.” This is not a cap as much as it is an outright prohibition of punitive damages.

Believe Your Injury Claim May Have A Damage Cap?

At Brown & Crouppen, we believe that any statute which limits damages, blocks access to the courts, or grants immunity to the most powerful is unjust. If you have been injured, and you want a free, confidential consultation, call toll free at 1-800-536-4357, or submit your request using our online form.

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