When you read in the news about courts awarding millions of dollars to injured plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits, your first reaction might be that the plaintiff or their attorneys are greedy and that no one needs that much money. The court does not just arbitrarily assign a huge number, though.
The amounts that plaintiffs request are based on the money they lost because of injury-related expenses and being unable to work, as well as future expenses and lost income. For a person permanently disabled in an accident, decades of lost income can add up to a lot of money. Additionally, the courts sometimes award non-economic damages; they determine this amount using the general damages multiplier, which is how much the accident negatively affects the plaintiff’s life in non-economic ways.
How much is too much, though? In many states, including Rhode Island, certain circumstances limit the amount of money a court can award to a plaintiff in a car accident injury lawsuit.
Damages Caps on Personal Injury Lawsuits in Rhode Island
Rhode Island has fewer restrictions than many other states do on the amount of money a plaintiff can receive in a personal injury lawsuit. If the plaintiff is suing a private individual or a company, the amount the plaintiff can request in damages is unlimited. If the defendant is the state of Rhode Island or a city or county in Rhode Island, though, then the maximum amount you may seek in damages is $100,000.
The federal damages cap of $250,000 does not apply to car accident injury lawsuits; it is only for medical malpractice lawsuits. Furthermore, it only limits the amount of economic damages; it does not include the amount of money awarded for medical expenses or lost income.
Beware of the Statute of Limitations
Just because it is possible to request an unlimited amount of money in a personal injury lawsuit in Rhode Island, it does not mean that there are no restrictions regarding personal injury lawsuits. You must file the lawsuit within three years of the date of the accident. If you miss this deadline, the court will not give your lawsuit a chance, no matter how severe your injuries are and no matter how careless the defendant was in causing the accident.
Therefore, the time to file a personal injury lawsuit is as soon as you realize that your injuries will have a major impact on you and your dependents financially. You should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as you receive a settlement offer from the car insurance company, if the amount is not enough to cover your medical bills and lost income. In that case, you should not sign the settlement offer; if you sign it, you lose the right to file a lawsuit.
Contact Dana & Dana About Car Accident Cases
It is possible to recover the money you need after a car accident injury, but only if you file a lawsuit on time. Contact Dana & Dana, a personal injury law firm in Providence, Rhode Island, to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.
Mark Dana has been practicing in Rhode Island for over 25 years. He has handled hundreds of cases in courthouses throughout the state. Due to Attorney Dana’s knowledge and reputation, he can often be seen appearing as the legal commentator for NBC 10 in Providence.