Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kansas legislature adopts bill to increase cap for non-economic damages

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that the Kansas Senate and House passed similar bills to gradually raise the non-economic damages cap in personal injury cases from $250,000 to $350,000.  The Senate and House versions were different in that the Senate version would eliminate the collateral source rule and allow jurors to hear testimony about whether a plaintiff's damages were covered by insurance.  For that reason, I wrote that "[h]opefully, the House version will prevail. One important goal of tort law is to shift the cost of accidents onto the persons who are responsible for the harm. The collateral source rule helps preserve this goal because, without it, it’s likely that costs would be shifted away from the wrongdoer to the injured party and his or her insurance provider. Exonerating the tortfeasor because the plaintiff can "afford" the cost of the accident also does nothing to advance another goal of tort law: deterrence."

Fortunately, the House version did prevail.  The bill (available here) gradually raises the cap and rejected the Senate's attempt to eliminate the collateral source rule.  The gradual change in the cap is described as follows:  $250,000 for causes of action accruing from July 1, 1988, to July 1, 2014; $300,000 for causes of action accruing on or after July 1, 2014, to July 1, 2018; $325,000 for causes of action accruing on or after July 1, 2018, to July 1, 2022; and $350,000 for causes of action accruing on or after July 1, 2022.

Thanks to the TortsProf blog for the update and some links to the bill and other important documents.

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