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State Caps for Medical Malpractice Compensation

Financial recoveries for medical malpractice cases are usually intended to compensate victims for the losses, injuries, harm and damage they suffered as a result of medical negligence. 

In general, these recoveries can include awards for:

  • Non-economic damages – Also referred to as “general damages,” non-economic damages refer to losses that are difficult (if not impossible) to quantify in dollars. Examples of this type of compensation include awards for pain and suffering, anxiety, and impacts to victims’ quality of life.
  • Economic damages – These awards are related to losses that can be assigned a monetary value. Some examples include awards for losses like medical bills, future treatment costs, and lost wages.

More than half all U.S. states have passed laws that impose limits – or caps – on the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases. While some states have fixed caps for non-economic damages, others have fluctuating caps, based on the nature of the injuries sustained. A handful of other states have set caps that cover both economic and non-economic damages.

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State Caps for Medical Malpractice Compensation

The following table highlights the different medical malpractice caps that have been imposed in various states throughout the U.S. Please note that states that do not currently have legal caps on damages for medical malpractice cases have been omitted from this table.

StateMedical Malpractice Damage Cap
(or $400,000 for certain permanent or fatal injuries)
(with a $1 million total cap)1
(or $700,000 if more than one medical facility was involved)
(or $1 million for cases against  healthcare facilities)
Indiana$1.25 million in total damages
(economic & non-economic)
Louisiana$500,000 in total damages3
Maine$500,000 in total damages
(or $774,000 for certain permanent injuries)
(or $700,000 for certain permanent or fatal injuries)
Nebraska$2.25 million in total damages
New Jersey$350,0005
New Mexico$600,000 in total damages3
North Carolina$500,0006, 7
North Dakota$500,000
South Carolina$350,000
(or $1.05 million when multiple defendants are involved)
South Dakota$500,000
(or $1 million for certain permanent or fatal injuries)
Virginia$2.25 million9 in total damages
West Virginia$250,000
(or $500,000 for certain permanent or fatal injuries)

1For non-economic & economic damages
2Subject to adjustment, based on the state-calculated “annual living wage”
3Not including the costs of future medical expenses
4This is for 2016. Maryland law provides that this cap increases annually by $15,000 (so it would be $785,000 in 2017, barring any changes to the state statute).
5This cap is for punitive damages for any injury case in the state.
6This is adjusted annually for inflation.
7This cap does not apply when disfiguring or permanent injuries have resulted from malicious or reckless acts.
8This cap only applies in wrongful death cases.
9This cap increases annually and is set to stop increasing in 2031 (at a limit of $3 million).

Medical Malpractice Awards: More Important Information

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