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Louisiana Cap on Damages in Personal Injury Cases - An image of Henri M. Saunders sitting on a park bench, overlooking a park in Baton Rouge.
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Louisiana Cap on Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Author: Henri M. Saunders

We receive more questions about damages than any other topic. Our clients rightly concern themselves with how and when they’ll be compensated for injuries caused by the negligence or recklessness of others.

In personal injury cases, injured parties can recover damages for economic and non-economic losses. These include damages for medical care and expenses; future medical expenses and needs; past and future lost wages; lost benefits; property damage; and pain and suffering. The type and amount of damages vary widely from case to case. 

To fully understand damages and potential limits on damages, it’s important to understand Louisiana laws capping damages in certain personal injury cases. Here’s a brief overview of the Louisiana cap on damages, the types of cases to which it applies, and what to expect from damage caps going forward.

When Does the Louisiana Cap on Damages Apply 

In most personal injury cases, Louisiana does not have a limit on recovery. For example, there are no limits on how much an injured party can recover in cases involving car accidents, slip and falls, or product liability. 

However, there are two types of cases with a $500,000 cap on damages: medical malpractice cases and claims against governmental entities. Broadly speaking, there are two main reasons for the $500,000 damages cap. First, these laws keep governmental entities or medical providers from going bankrupt over a single case. Second, they help deter less meritorious lawsuits where a plaintiff may have had a bad result from a medical procedure when there was no breach in the standard of care. 

In practice, these limitations rarely impact our clients’ recovery. We’ll look at each category more in-depth to show why this is the case. 

Louisiana Damages Cap in Medical Malpractice Cases

Louisiana Revised Statute 40:1231.2 sets a $500,000 cap on damages in medical malpractice cases. Notably, this limit is applied per claim, regardless of the number of claimants in a case. 

Despite this limit, there are exceptions where damages may exceed this cap. There are two significant exceptions that we always discuss with clients: 

  1. The cap does not limit a plaintiff’s recovery for future medical expenses; and 
  2. The cap is not applicable when the healthcare provider was not a qualified provider with the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation fund. 

Louisiana Cap on Damages in Cases Against Governmental Entities

The other category of cases with a damages cap in Louisiana is cases against governmental agencies. Louisiana Revised Statute 13:5106 limits recovery from any state agency or political subdivision to $500,000. This applies to cases against both local and state governmental entities, and is a “per claim” cap as opposed to a “per plaintiff” limit. 

Keep in mind that this limit doesn’t apply to cases against the federal government, as those suits are brought in federal court and governed by the Federal Tort Claims Act–Louisiana laws are not applied. 

The exceptions to this state law cap are similar to medical malpractice cases, such as past and future medical expenses and property damage.  However, an award of medical expenses must be placed in a reversionary trust and used only for its intended purpose–future accident related medical expenses.  So, if the defendant is the state of Louisiana, there is a $500,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering and other intangible damages, subject to the exceptions outlined above. 

We see this limit applied most frequently when an individual is injured on public property – for example, on a defective sidewalk – or when there’s a car accident involving a government employee. 

What to Expect from Louisiana Damages Cap Going Forward

Numerous legal challenges to the damages cap have occurred, but none of them have been successful in Louisiana. Given the historical context, our team foresees the likelihood that the cap will remain in place, with no anticipated major changes to the law.

That said, there is a strong argument that the amount of the caps (which have been in place for over 40 years) should increase over time. After all, these damages include things like lost wages and benefits, so it seems reasonable to account for inflation. 

If the law were to factor in inflation so that the $500,000 damages cap increases slightly year-to-year or every few years, it would provide a more equitable and realistic approach to compensation. Other than this inflation adjustment, it’s unlikely that there will be major shifts in the $500,000 damages cap in Louisiana.

Contact Our Team to Learn More 

If you’ve been injured in an accident, give us a call. We’ll look at your case, talk through your options, and let you know how state laws might impact your recovery. 

We have a track record of success and know how to navigate complex state laws. Call us at (225) 771-8100 to schedule a free consultation

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