Awards & Associations

Oklahoma Supreme Court Overturns Cap on Pain and Suffering Damages for Personal Injury Cases

May 13, 2019

Recently, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court declared the cap on non-economic damages for personal injury cases in Oklahoma to be unconstitutional. The ruling is a significant development for those injured in Oklahoma, as it may allow plaintiffs to receive more appropriate compensation for their injuries in the future.

Previously, the maximum limit on recoverable damages for pain and suffering in a lawsuit was $350,000 per injured person. The cap was first established in 2011, alongside several similar regulations, as part of the state legislature’s push for tort reform.

Ultimately, the reform made the state much more business-friendly, as organizations were held substantially less liable if an individual was hurt on their property or during work. Thanks to a recent case, involving an injured employee of an oil rig, Jason Beason, the law has changed.

As a result of Beason’s accident, in which he was hit by a falling crane, he suffered two left-arm amputations. He and his wife were awarded $6 million in pain and suffering damages, but the judge later reduced their award to $350,000 each because of the cap placed on non-economic damages in personal injury cases. The Beasons appealed, and the case made its way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Why Was the Cap Considered Unconstitutional?

When the cap on non-economic damages was originally enacted in Oklahoma, it was considered a “special law” or a “single subject rule,” resulting in a grey area with regard to the law’s constitutionality. Many lawmakers consider the limit on pain and suffering damages unconstitutional because it treats people who survive their injuries differently than people who do not.

As the Oklahoma State Constitution is written now, all people with the same circumstances must be treated in the same manner, meaning the arbitrary cap would be unconstitutional. Those opposed to the removal of the cap are threatening to investigate Oklahoma constitutional changes and the independence of the courts.

Get Help Pursuing Compensation from a Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have suffered an injury and would like to take legal action in a personal injury case in Oklahoma, please contact one of our attorneys at Saint and Watzke Law Firm. Our skilled legal team could help you pursue compensation for your pain and suffering, as well as any economic losses you may have experienced. We are standing by for your call.