According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 5.3 million Americans suffer lifelong disabilities as a result of traumatic brain injuries. The associated costs of these injuries range from $85,000 to more than $3 million.
Each state varies in the damage cap placed on how much a person with a traumatic brain injury can recover. In the state of Texas, damage caps are placed on three types of cases: medical malpractice, personal injury cases against the government, and personal injury cases in which punitive damages are awarded. It’s the last in this series that may directly affect brain injury victims pursuing a personal injury case in Texas.
Compensatory Vs. Punitive Damages
Compensatory damages are what the client is compensated for injuries suffered. Often referred to “actual damages,” compensatory damages can be awarded for things such as loss of income, bodily injury, property damage, medical bills, etc. In order to receive compensation, the plaintiff must prove the amount of the loss and that the loss was caused by the defendant.
In a personal injury case, punitive damages can be awarded on top of compensatory damages if the defendant’s behavior was particularly egregious. They are designed to make an example out of someone to warn others of punishment for similar actions.
“In Texas, punitive damages are limited to twice the amount of economic damages. What that means is, if a client has an economic loss of $500,000 (such as lost income or medical expenses) and emotional damages totaling $1 million, the court only allows two times the economic damages. Meaning the client could be awarded an additional $1 million in punitive damages,” Brad says.
“Punitive damages require a higher burden of proof that the plaintiff must show. You must present clear, convincing evidence that the defendant acted in conscious disregard in exposing the victim to an extreme degree of risk of potential harm.”
Another factor affecting punitive damages in Texas is that every juror must agree on the award. Unlike a normal jury verdict that only requires 10 out of 12 to agree, all 12 must agree in order for a client to receive punitive damages.
If you or a loved one have suffered from TBI due to the negligence or stupidity of others, fill out our contact form or call our office at 817-440-3888. We would love to help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.