Ashley’s Law Seeks to Raise Award Cap

In response to a state law that caps the amount of damages that Pennsylvania school districts are allowed to pay people injured on school property or by school employees, state legislators may consider “Ashley’s Law.”

In 2007, Ashley Zauflik was severely injured when a school bus ran her over. As a result of her injuries, Ashley had to undergo an amputation of her left leg below the knee. For her injuries and pain and suffering, a jury awarded Ashley $14 million in a personal injury lawsuit.

While the school district had an umbrella insurance policy that covered the district up to $10 million at the time of the accident, a 1978 state law caps the amount of damages school districts can pay in civil awards at $500,000. Meaning, Ashley may not be fully compensated for her injuries.

Before introducing “Ashley’s Law” to the full legislative body, two state legislators are working to determine at what level the civil award cap should be set. To help them do so, the legislators are seeking input from the state’s school districts.

“We want to determine whether the current cap is antiquated and whether insurance that is affordable to school districts and municipalities could allow innocent victims with catastrophic injuries, like Ashley, to recover without significantly burdening taxpayers,” says state Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D-31), one of the law makers pursuing “Ashley’s Law.”

The current level of the cap may leave people who suffer severe injuries without the ability to pay for expensive medical bills or long-term rehabilitation costs. “Ashley’s Law” represents an opportunity for people injured by school buses, school employees or on school property to be more fully compensated for their injuries.

Source: “Lawmakers hope to ease injury award limits with ‘Ashley’s Law’,”, 1/13/12