How Variations In States' Injury Laws Can Affect Your Case

1 March 2017
 Categories: , Blog


If you want to sue someone for a personal injury, think carefully about the jurisdiction of your case. This is because personal injury laws vary across the country, and the variations can affect your case in different ways. Here are three examples of these variations and how they may affect you:

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is the time limit within which you must file a personal injury lawsuit. You won't be able to make a legal claim for your injuries if you let the statute of limitations expire. The statute of limitations varies by state and (in some cases) type of injury. For example, Tennessee's statute of limitations only runs for a mere year while in neighboring Mississippi it is three years.

Damage Caps

Most states place limits or caps on the maximum recovery plaintiffs can recover from defendants. For example, if the damage cap for a particular injury is $2 million, then that is what you will get even if the jury awards you $3 million. For states that place limits on damages, the limits don't apply to economic damages, but rather to other forms of damages such as punitive and non-economic damages.

The damage caps also vary by state. For example, Arkansas has capped its punitive damages at $1 million while Georgia has it at $250,000. Therefore, if the jury awards two people punitive damages of $1 million in the two states, the person in Georgia will only get $250,000.

Liability Determination

If you are suing multiple defendants for your injury, then the manner in which they will be required to pay for your damages will also depend on your state. Some states use the legal principle of several liability, which holds each defendant liable for the portion of damages that they are responsible for. Other states use the legal principle of joint liability, in which any of the defendants can be held liable for your entire damages. The third group of states uses a hybrid of these two legal principles. In this case, you can hold the defendants equally responsible for your entire damages, and the defendants then have the option of suing each other to recover the share of damages that their compatriots should have paid. 

All these may seem like legal jargon, but their potential effect on your injury case is huge. For example, you may fail to recover all your damages if you are suing multiple defendants in a state that uses the principle of several liability. This may happen, for example, if one of the defendants neither has the insurance nor the means to pay their portion of the damages.

This is one of these reasons it's advisable to consult an injury attorney like Greg S. Memovich before instigating a lawsuit. The attorney will help you choose the appropriate jurisdiction for your case.