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How Texas damages caps can affect your personal injury case

If your loved one sustained injury due to nursing home negligence, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit may form the best option for obtaining proper compensation.

In some situations, Texas law may limit the amount of potential damages. Discussing your case with a knowledgeable attorney can help you get a fuller and more accurate picture of what you can expect.

Economic damages

In personal injury cases, plaintiffs may ask for three categories of damages. The first is economic damages, which encompass tangible financial losses: medical bills, lost earnings, costs for rehabilitation facilities or assistive devices. Figuring out economic damages can involve some complicated math but ultimately boils down to something that you can show on a pay stub or invoice. Economic damages do not have a cap.

Noneconomic damages

The second category includes noneconomic damages, sometimes also called pain and suffering. An injury does not just cause a person to lose money; it often inflicts considerable physical pain and emotional trauma.

There are several caps on noneconomic damages that could apply in various types of medical malpractice cases. If you are suing the nursing home, your pain-and-suffering damages may be limited to $250,000. If a physician or other provider is a defendant, the same cap may apply. If you are suing several entities (for example, the nursing home and a hospital), each entity may only have to pay up to $250,000 in noneconomic damages; the law also caps total noneconomic recovery from all entities at $500,000.

In some, but not all, nursing home negligence cases, medical malpractice does play a role. In some cases, additional causes of action may be present.

In a wrongful death case, the law works somewhat differently. The above caps still apply - with an adjustment for inflation since 1977.

Exemplary damages

Finally, in some cases, a plaintiff may also obtain punitive damages, also called exemplary damages. Unlike the other types of damages, punitive amounts do not relate directly to the extent of harm your loved one suffered. Courts award these damages as a punishment for a defendant who committed actual wrongdoing rather than mere negligence. Under Texas law, punitive damages cannot exceed either $200,000 or twice the sum of economic and noneconomic damages up to $750,000.

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