The pain and suffering “caps” are no longer valid in Kansas. The statutes provided for a limit on awarded for non-economic damages in a civil case that has all changed now. The Kansas Supreme Court, on June 14th,2019, significantly changed Kansas public policy when the judges struck the statutes which put a limit on how much a jury can award for pain and suffering. The court did not strike similar restrictions in other areas of the law, nor did it strike the courts power to limit award.
The case involved an auto-truck accident where a person was injured when the car she was riding in was rear-ended by a semi-truck. The statutory cap on pain and suffering damages during the accident was $250,000, and the jury came in with a verdict for the pain of $301,509.14.
The court said that when the right to a jury trial was placed in the Kansas constitution, the legislature was prevented from making modifications or limits to the right. The court attempted to explain why the same reasoning would not apply to on the job injuries of employees where the statutes eliminate jury trials altogether, explaining at length why it’s ok to have the wholesale abolition and replacement of the right to jury trials in the workers compensation area but not ok to limit the amount of an award. The court also attempted to explain why it’s ok for the legislature to eliminate jury trials altogether for claims under $2,000 in medical bills which do not otherwise meet the statutory threshold, but it’s not ok to limit the size of the verdict. In making the decision, the Kansas Supreme court said, in this case, it is not bound by it’s previous decisions to the contrary saying it is no longer inexorably bound by precedent when the current court decides the prior court decision was erroneous or no longer sound in the opinion of a simple majority of the currently sitting judges.