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Does Pennsylvania Place Caps on Damages?

January 29, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

When someone in Pennsylvania is injured and it is the fault of another person, the accident victim may be able to file a lawsuit. A lawsuit can help accident victims claim compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, and even pain and suffering.

While many states place a cap, or limit, on the amount of certain damages an accident victim can receive, that is not the case in Pennsylvania. Courts within the state have actually found in the past that placing such caps on damages is illegal under the Pennsylvania Constitution.

There are however, some instances in which caps may be placed on the amount of compensation an accident victim can receive.

Lawsuits Against Commonwealth Parties

Under Pennsylvania statute 8528, there may be caps placed on the compensation available in a lawsuit filed against a government entity such as the Commonwealth or Penndot. Under this statute plaintiffs, or injured parties, can seek damages for lost income, future earning capacity, dental and medical expenses, loss of consortium, and property damage expenses.

However, while plaintiffs can seek compensation from government agencies, those damages cannot exceed $250,000. Also under this statute, accident victims cannot seek compensation for property damage caused by potholes or other “dangerous conditions.”

Lawsuits Against Local Agencies

In addition to government agencies, lawsuits against local agencies, or local parties, such as school districts or the City of Philadelphia can also have caps placed on compensation amounts. This is outlined in Pennsylvania statute 8553. This statute states that damages in a lawsuit cannot exceed $500,000.

Under this statute, plaintiffs can receive the same types of compensation that are available when filing a lawsuit against a government entity, though there are some differences. In addition to claiming compensation against a local agency for loss of support, plaintiffs may also seek compensation for loss of consortium in the case of wrongful death. Compensation can also be sought for property damage, including those resulting from potholes and other dangerous conditions.

In addition to these types of compensation, pain and suffering may also be available when filing a lawsuit against a local agency. This compensation is only available though, when an accident has resulted in death or the permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement, or permanent dismemberment. When an accident has resulted in more than $1,500 in medical and/or dental expenses, an individual can also seek damages for pain and suffering.

Medical Malpractice

Many states also place caps on medical malpractice claims, and Pennsylvania is no different. Pennsylvania also has certain requirements on any punitive damages awarded in a medical malpractice case. Punitive damages are those intended to punish the defendant.

Overall, punitive damages in medical malpractice cases cannot exceed more than 200 percent of the compensatory damages awarded. In Pennsylvania, 25 percent of this type of compensation must be given to the state’s MCARE (Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error) Fund rather than the plaintiff.

Speak to a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney that can Help

Even without caps placed on compensation, filing a lawsuit in order to receive compensation can be complicated. For this reason, accident victims wishing to file a lawsuit should speak to a Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer that can help.

If you have been injured in an accident, call us at (215) 486-0123. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, we’ll guide you through the entire process, speak to insurance companies on your behalf, and fight for your rights so you receive the full amount of compensation you’re entitled to. If you’re hurt, don’t wait another minute. Call us today so we can start reviewing your case.


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