How much you can sue for depends upon the injuries you suffered, the grievousness of the case, and the amount the defendant has. Say that you were in a car accident that totaled your $6000 car, gave you $2400 in medical bills, and lost you $1600 in wages when you couldn't work. That's a total of $10,000, and you can expect any court to award you that much regardless of how much the defendant has got. But say that you had pain and suffering. If the defendant has money, you might get a few thousand for your pain and suffering. Now say that the defendant was drunk out of his or her mind, and had a history of DUIs. The more sinister the defendant looks, the higher your award will be (if the defendant has money). Pain and suffering money, when the court wishes to punish the defendant ant lead by example, can be very high. Since the idea is to punish the defendant, this means more money for the plaintiff because the defendant needs to pay more in order to feel the punch. Do you remember that case years ago where a woman won $20,000,000 from McDonald's after being burnt by hot coffee? That was not because a court thought the woman received twenty million dollars' worth of pain, but because it took being forced to pay twenty million dollars to get McDonald's to make its coffee less hot. If the same thing had happened at a local restaurant with a profit of $200,000 a year, the judgment would have been closer to $10,000.