What Are the Compensation “Caps” for Medical Malpractice Cases?

“Caps” are limits on the amount of a judgment entered by a court. Usually, the caps limit the amount of non-economic damages, generally thought of as pain and suffering damages, that can be awarded.

In Missouri, the law as it now stands is that, regardless of the amount of non-economic damages a jury awards, the Court can only enter a judgment for a total of approximately $450,000 in non-economic damages. (These caps are updated annually and adjust with the cost of living.) That means, even if a jury believed that the injured patient was entitled to more money to compensate them for years of pain and suffering, the Court must reduce that amount to $450,000. However, there is no limit in Missouri on the amount of economic damages that a jury and court can award. Economic damages are things like past and future medical care costs and past and future lost income. Thus, the cap does not mean that the most a victim of malpractice can receive is $450,000.

In Illinois, the Illinois Supreme Court has recently declared that the medical malpractice caps enacted in that state are unconstitutional. Currently there are no statutory limits on the amount of damages a jury can award.