Does Missouri Have a Cap on Recoverable Damages?


When an individual sustains a serious injury it can have tremendous consequences on their life with impacts ranging from excruciating pain to an inability to return to work in their previous capacity or at all. These consequences of an injury are known as “damages” in a personal injury claim. When an injury occurs to someone due to the careless, reckless, or wrongful actions of someone else, the person who committed the negligent action is liable for damages under Missouri tort law. In a personal injury claim, an injury victim files a claim against the insurance company of the party at fault for their injury—such as their car insurance after a car accident, or malpractice insurance after a medical malpractice injury. In some cases, the claim becomes a lawsuit in court, for instance, if the victim’s damages far exceed the policy limits of the insurance or if the insurance company offers an undervalued settlement amount or wrongfully denies a valid claim. Jury awards for damages in lawsuits tend to be significantly higher than settlement offers—probably because compassionate juries are sympathetic toward injury victims. But is any amount too much when it comes to recoverable damages? Does Missouri place limits—or caps—on personal injury damages?

Personal injury damage caps

What are Common Damages in a Personal Injury Claim in Missouri?

Injuries quickly become costly, with medical bills coming in often at the same time that the injury victim is unable to return to work because they’re undergoing painful medical procedures and lengthy recovery times. In some cases, injury-related disability keeps them from being able to work at their previous capacity or at all. Common economic damages in serious personal injury claims include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Future income loss
  • Diminished earning capacity due to disability

The second category of damages in personal injury claims is non-economic damages which include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Other applicable non-economic damages like disfigurement compensation, traumatic limb loss, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, PTSD, or grief and anguish in wrongful death claims

In most cases, Missouri does not place caps on economic or non-economic damages but some exceptions exist.

When are Damages Capped in Missouri Personal Injury Cases?

If your claim for damages is against a government entity such as a city bus system or a federal park, there may be caps placed on the amount of compensation you can recover. For instance, economic damages like medical expenses and lost income are capped at $441,130. Caps on non-economic damages limit compensation for pain and suffering and other intangible damages to $460,499.

Missouri also has caps in place for medical malpractice claims since the 2015 passing of  Senate Bill 239, which limits non-economic damages to $400,000 for most injuries and $700,000 for catastrophic injuries. There are no caps in place for economic damages in Missouri medical malpractice claims.

Experienced personal injury attorneys can help clients carefully calculate their damages in personal injury claims to maximize the amount of compensation they can recover, even in cases with caps on damages.

In cases of egregious actions resulting in injuries, injury victims may make claims for punitive damages. Punitive damages serve not as compensation but as a deterrent and punishment to the wrongdoer. Missouri does not cap punitive damages in personal injury cases.