Contrary to common belief, there are statutory limits on the compensation individuals can be awarded in personal injury cases. These statutory limits apply to punitive damages and damages for pain and suffering and it is important to understand these prior to pursuing claims in court. If you or a family member was seriously injured due to negligence, call a Las Vegas personal injury attorney at Cogburn Law Offices today for a free case consultation.
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Limits on Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages include those that are awarded for lost wages, medical bills and property damage. There are no limits on these types of economic or pecuniary damages in Nevada. As such, individuals may be awarded the full amount required to cover the damages they have incurred. However, there is a cap of $350,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.
Limits on Punitive Damages
Individuals may recover punitive damages when the defendant’s actions are notably negligent. For example, if the injury was the result of fraud or malice. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages in order to both punish the offender and deter others from following similar courses of action.
Nevada statutes allow individuals to recover punitive damages of up to $300,000 in cases where the value of compensatory damages is less than $100,000. If compensatory damages exceed $100,000, then plaintiffs may be awarded up to three times the compensatory damage award in punitive damages.
There are some notable exceptions that are excluded from caps. For instance, there are no caps on punitive damages in the following situations when they cause personal injuries:
- Product manufacturers, distributors, or outlets who sell products that are known to be defective.
- Individuals or entities who dispose of toxic waste or hazardous materials.
- Individuals or entities in violation of state or federal anti-discrimination housing laws.
- Bad faith insurance cases where insurer’s fail to provide adequate insurance.
- Car accidents caused by drivers under the influence of drugs/alcohol.
- Cases that violate the state’s anti-defamation laws.
Finally, punitive damages may not be pursued in some claims. For example, in cases involving negligence on the part of government employees.
The Impact of Comparative Fault
Nevada is a comparative fault state and individuals who are found to be 51% or more at fault for causing the accident or injury cannot pursue compensatory or punitive damages. Thus, it is important to work closely with a Las Vegas accident lawyer to ensure that the facts of the case are clearly presented and that the level of fault can be clearly established in court.