Following any kind of accident that results in injury, it's standard for an injured party to pursue damages from an at-fault party and his or her insurance company. These damages aren't just limited to reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages, but can also include additional pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages that can impact a person's quality of life. This can include emotional and mental trauma, as well as loss of life enjoyment.
A cap on non-economic damages ruled unconstitutional in Oklahoma
Luckily, Massachusetts doesn't place a cap on pursuing damages for pain and suffering, but a $350,000 lawsuit cap was implemented in Oklahoma through a 2009 tort reform bill, which was amended in 2011.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently ruled the cap to be unconstitutional, asserting that the law treated crash survivors who pursue personal injury lawsuits unfairly while imposing no cap on wrongful death lawsuits.
"The failing of the statute is that it purports to limit recovery for pain and suffering in cases where the plaintiff survives the injury-causing event, while persons who die from the injury-causing event face no such limitation," Justice John Reif said in a statement.
An appeal of the lawsuit cap has been considered by the Oklahoma Supreme Court after a 2012 oilfield accident involving a crane that resulted in an amputation. The case against the crane operator ended in a $14 million jury verdict, $5 million of which was determined to be non-economic damages. A $350,000 cap was placed on the non-economic damages, however. In addition, a cap was placed on a $1 million award to the claimant's spouse.
Those who opposed the tort reform cap point to a violation of Article 5, Section 46 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits "local and special laws on certain subjects."
"If a decedent can recover without limitation for pain and suffering during the time between the harm-causing event and his or her death," Reif said. "No good reason exists to treat a person who survives the harm-causing event differently with respect to recovery for the very same treatment."
Recovering damages for pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit
Whether your injury was caused by a roadway incident, defective product, medical malpractice, slip and fall, or other forms of negligence, you may be eligible for a personal injury lawsuit. The cost of any medical procedures, treatments, and prescriptions associated with your accident would be recovered. In addition, you lost wages may be reimbursed while you're unable to attend work.
Pursuing non-economic damages may be challenging. Damages for pain and suffering must be accurately calculated and proven. In Massachusetts, in order to be eligible to collect non-economic damages, your medical damages must be more than $2,000.
Proving pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit may be accomplished by providing:
- Medical and prescription records
- Photos of injuries
- Documentation of inability to perform work or other tasks
- Documentation of mental and emotion anguish
- Statements from witnesses, as well as friends and relatives of the claimant
An experienced personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone can investigate the cause of your injury and help determine how much compensation you are entitled to. To learn more, contact us online today.