A lawsuit may be the best option for personal injury victims in Indiana to recover compensation after someone else caused the accident that harmed them. If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, you likely have questions about how much you stand to recover.
Indiana’s statutory caps may affect your recovery. Several types of damage caps in Indiana apply in certain situations, such as medical malpractice or suits where a government entity is a defendant, or to certain types of compensation, such as punitive damages.
The best way to learn about how these caps may affect your case, if at all, is to reach out to an experienced Indiana personal injury attorney as soon as possible. When you call the offices of Wruck Paupore at (219) 322-1166 today, you can get your questions answered during your free initial case evaluation.
To understand how the various damage caps in Indiana apply, it is important to understand how the damages they affect are calculated. Damages can be separated into two general categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Some damage caps take this difference into account, so it is important to understand what each entails.
Compensatory damages are meant to provide an equitable monetary remedy to the plaintiff in light of the harms they sustained. In most cases, compensatory damages encompass the entirety of what is available.
Within compensatory damages are two separate categories of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages speak to the financial loss resulting from the plaintiff’s injuries, such as medical bills or lost income. Non-economic damages are based more on the impact that the incident and resulting injuries have had on the plaintiff’s quality of life. These types of damages are include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and diminished enjoyment of life.
While compensatory damages are typically available in every type of successful personal injury lawsuit, punitive damages are much less common. An Indiana court will only award punitive damages if they find the defendant’s conduct so reckless or intentionally malicious that it warrants punishment on top of the compensatory damages they already should owe.
Some circumstances where punitive damages may be considered include drunk driving accidents, defective products which the manufacturer knew about, and intentional violence such as assault.
It is important to separate compensatory and punitive damages because Indiana law places a cap only on what personal injury plaintiffs can claim in punitive damages. Not only that, but this statutory limit is based in part upon the total amount of compensatory damages.
Under Indiana law, punitive damages are capped at three times the amount of the total compensatory damages or $50,000, whichever is higher. For example, if the court awarded a plaintiff $25,000 in compensatory damage, the most they could receive additionally in punitive damages would be $75,000. If the same plaintiff only received $15,000 in compensatory damages, they could still get up to $50,000 in punitive damages, even though that number is larger than three times their compensatory damages ($45,000).
Although not technically a cap, it is also important to understand that only 25% of the total award of punitive damages goes to the victim, because it is deemed a penalty (similar to a fine) rather than compensation to the victim. The rest of the award goes to the State of Indiana to a fund established to help crime victims.
In cases where punitive damages are available, it is important to have an idea of your compensatory damages first so that you can fully understand what your case may be worth. This is particularly important when considering potential settlement offers. While you may only receive an part of a punitive damage award, the defendant is required to pay the full amount, which allows a potential avenue for negotiation. Never agree to the terms of a settlement without having your Indiana personal injury attorney assess the offer and discuss your options with you first.
Like many other states, Indiana limits how much can be awarded in a medical malpractice case, which happens when a health care provider deviates from the professional standard of care and causes harm to their patient.
In Indiana, the total amount allowable for recovery by law for medical malpractice cases that occurred prior to June 30, 2019 is $1.65 million. On that date, a new law raised the applicable damages cap to $1.8 million. The cap that applies to you depends on the date you sustained your injury. This may not always be so clear in medical malpractice cases, so reach out to an experienced Hammond personal injury attorney if you have questions about what limits may apply to your situation.
For personal injury lawsuits against the government in the State of Indiana, the total amount of recoverable damages is capped at $700,000. This may apply to any situation where the party you are suing is any type of government agency.
For instance, if you slipped and fell on poorly maintained public property, or if you were involved in an accident with a sanitation truck or a public bus, your case would be against the state or municipal agency responsible.
If you plan to name a government agency in a lawsuit, you should also take special care to address any notice requirements. Depending on the government agency, most plaintiffs have only a limited time to notify that agency that they intend to sue. This is separate from filing your actual lawsuit. An experienced Indiana personal injury lawyer will be familiar with the notice requirements you are facing and can help you meet them so long as you reach out as soon as possible after suffering your injury.
Caps on Damages in Wrongful Death Actions
Indiana wrongful death actions have their own set of requirements of what can and cannot be recovered which depends upon the age of the victim, whether they were a dependent of another person, or if an adult whether they were married or had dependents of their own. We cover caps and the types of damages recoverable in Indiana wrongful death actions in this article.
If you have any questions about the statutory caps discussed above and how they may affect your recovery, reach out to the seasoned Indianapolis personal injury lawyers at Wruck Paupore by calling our offices today at (219) 322-1166. We can offer a free initial case assessment for your first call.
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Don is a founding partner and one of the nation’s top-ranked personal injury litigators. He is a member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, which includes less than 1% of the nation’s trial lawyers, and awarded the highest ranking given by Martindale Hubbel and AVVO.
More importantly, Don understands representing personal injury victims is about more than recovering the best settlement: it’s about helping clients get back on their feet and supporting them in every aspect of their recovery.
In nearly all cases, our clients seek compensation from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. Before forming Wruck Paupore, Jason worked for a prominent law firm representing some of the world’s largest insurers. This experience gives Jason a deep understanding of the insurance industry and the strategies it uses to pay injury victims as little as possible.
Jason -- and our entire team -- put this inside knowledge to work to force insurance companies to pay what is actually owed. Often, we use the insurance company’s own tactics against them as we fight for the full compensation our client deserves.
For more than four decades, Keith has been fighting for injury victims. During that time, he’s watched the insurance industry change, with insurers now more interested in protecting their stock price than treating injury victims fairly.
Since the beginning, Keith has put people first. From his childhood in Gary, Indiana during the 1960’s and working his way through law school, Keith has risen to become one of the Midwest’s most respected trial lawyers. He has never forgotten that being a lawyer is about helping people -- and seeing injury victims through struggles in a way that could change their lives forever.
Over the decades, Keith, Don and Jason have fought relentlessly for clients, even when other lawyers have said the case was impossible to win.