Pennsylvania statute places significant limitations on the monetary damages recoverable by a plaintiff in a civil action against a governmental agency. The precise scope of these limitations is dependant upon whether the governmental entity at issue is a “Commonwealth agency” or a “local agency.”
If the entity being sued is an agency or employee of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the recovery of any one plaintiff cannot exceed $250,000 and the maximum total recovery of all plaintiffs cannot exceed $1,000,000. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 8528. If the entity being sued is a local agency, the maximum total recovery of all plaintiffs cannot exceed $500,000. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 8553.
In addition to placing a monetary cap on the amount of damages recoverable, these statutes also specify the types of damages recoverable by a plaintiff in an action against a governmental agency. Of particular note is the fact that 42 Pa.C.S. § 8553 places a significant limitation on a plaintiff’s ability to recover damages for pain and suffering in an action against a local agency. The statute specifically states that damages for pain and suffering may only be recovered in cases where plaintiff has suffered death, or “permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement or permanent dismemberment” with medical bill in excess of $1,500.
This statute often has a severely detrimental impact on a plaintiff’s ability to recover from a local governmental agency and must be considered before proceeding with such a case. However, it is important to note that there is no such limitation on the recovery of damages for pain and suffering against a Commonwealth agency. If you have been injured as the result of the negligence of a governmental agency, please contact the experienced attorneys at Stark & Stark to discuss your legal options.