Kansas Personal Injury Damages 101 – types of damages

There are several types of damages that a plaintiff in Kansas can potentially recover.  Damages calculations may be complicated, but categorizing them makes them easier to understand.  I prefer to categorize damages by time and by type.

Time categories

Damages are simply categorized into past damages and future damages.  Past damages occur prior to “Now”.  Future damages are the damages which are likely to be incurred in the future.  During a lawsuit’s lifespan, “Now” is a moving target.  At the moment in time a personal injury occurs, the monetary damages may be born, and as time goes forward, future damages shift into the past damages category.  Tools such as Microsoft Excel are useful for tracking damages and shifting them between “Past” and “Future” damages.  Future damages could be calculated based on the life expectancy of the plaintiff, and must be discounted into present money.

Type categories

Damages are simply categorized into the different types of damages.  The three primary types of damages in Kansas are (1) non-economic, (2) economic, and (3) punitive damages.  Economic damages are fully recoverable and are not subject to any cap.  Non-economic damages are capped in Kansas at $250,000.  Punitive damages have a few other interesting points.

Non-Economic Damages

Examples of non-economic damages include (1) Pain; (2) Suffering; (3) physical distress; (4) impairment; (5) emotional distress; (6) disfigurement; (7) and more.  The non-economic damages cap has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Kansas.  These damages can be both past and future.

Economic Damages

Economic Damages are damages that are calculated from evidence such as documents or records.  It usually involves medical bills and expenses, loss of earnings/wages, property damage, and lost earning capacity.  These damages can be both past and future.

Punitive Damages

In Kansas a judge must allow the petition to be amended to include punitive damages.  If a judge does allow amendment for punitive damages, the jury will decide if punitive damages are awarded, and the judge will hold a separate proceeding to determine the amount of the punitive damages.  The limit on punitive damages is defined in K.S.A. 60-3701 et. seq, and they may not exceed the lesser of defendants highest annual gross income from any of the prior 5 years unless the court deems inadequate, then may award up to 50% of net worth or $ 5,000,000. If the court finds profits exceed or should exceed these limits, then award may be up to 1. 5 times of the profit.

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