In states that already cap some damages - the ones labeled "pain and suffering" - the study finds that total awards have remained pretty much the same. This suggests that plaintiffs' lawyers have simply recast their cases to encourage juries to award the same amounts under different names - for, say, "lost wages."
However the study ignores cases that are settles out of court:
The new study, by Catherine M. Sharkey, a law professor at Columbia, may change
that. The study, to be published in the New York University Law Review in May,
analyzed jury verdicts in 22 states in 1992, 1996 and 2001. It did not consider
cases settled out of court. It found that the median compensatory award in
states with caps on damages was $324,000, compared with $387,000 elsewhere -
figures that Professor Sharkey found were roughly equivalent after the data was
adjusted for variables like the kind and number of plaintiffs and defendants,
the percentages of local doctors and lawyers, and jurors' wealth and ages.