How Do Medical Malpractice Damage Caps Work in Missouri?
Posted in Medical Malpractice on September 8, 2020
When you experience negligence at the hands of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, you have the right to collect compensation for the damages you suffered. These funds can help pay for a number of expenses, including medical bills and lost wages. However, the state of Missouri does impose a limit on the amount of compensation you can claim — and understanding these damage caps is necessary for your lawsuit.
Potential Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Under Missouri law, you have the right to collect two main types of damages in medical malpractice lawsuits: economic and non-economic. Economic damages involve tangible, financial harm, while non-economic damages concern your pain and suffering. All of the damages you claim must relate to the injuries you suffered because of the malpractice.
The court will award this compensation if you can prove the following four elements.
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care at the time of the malpractice.
- The at-fault party deviated from the medical standard of care.
- This deviation directly caused your injuries.
- You suffered economic and non-economic damages due to the malpractice.
Common types of economic damages include all past and future medical expenses for your injuries, as well as lost wages during your recovery period and loss of future earnings, if applicable. You may also receive economic damages for disability accommodations, transportation to medical appointments, and therapy. To prove your need for compensation, your attorney will help you collect documentation detailing the expenses you already incurred, as well as develop a long-term care plan for future costs.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, involve your physical pain and emotional anguish. You may collect this compensation for a loss of quality of life, chronic pain, disability, and disfigurement. You can also receive funds for emotional distress and the development of mental health conditions. Different entities use unique formulas to calculate non-economic damages.
Non-Economic Damage Caps in Missouri
In a Missouri medical malpractice lawsuit, you can collect as much compensation for your economic damages as you need. The state does not impose damage caps for your financial losses or future expenses. When it comes to non-economic damages, however, the state does impose limits on the amount of compensation you can collect.
The 2015 passage of the Missouri Revised Statutes section 538.210.1 allowed medical malpractice victims to claim up to $400,000 in non-economic damages for non-catastrophic injuries. If your case involved catastrophic injuries or wrongful death, the state imposed a $700,000 non-economic damage cap.
The law allows for a 1.7% annual increase for these limits to account for inflation. As of 2020, the non-economic damage cap for non-catastrophic injuries was $435,176, and the catastrophic damage cap was $761,558.
These recent numbers are a significant increase from the previous damage cap — until 2012, Missouri only allowed patients to collect up to $350,000 for non-economic losses. The Missouri Supreme Court determined this limit was unconstitutional.
Understanding Your Medical Malpractice Case Value
Before entering negotiations or attending trial, it is important to know the estimated value of your medical malpractice case. Calculating your case value can help you avoid low settlement offers, as well as understand what evidence you need to prove your right to damages.
A Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer can help you accomplish this task. An attorney will understand the formulas necessary to estimate your damages, as well as current limits on non-economic losses. If you have not done so already, speak to a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case’s value.