Are There Any Caps on Medical Malpractice Damages in Florida?
Gregg Hollander | August 24, 2022 | Medical Malpractice
If you were harmed by a medical provider while receiving treatment, you may have the right to pursue a medical malpractice claim and seek compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. But, your financial recovery might be limited based on damage caps.
Damage caps limit the amount of compensation that claimants can receive. The purpose of damage caps is to set a financial limit that a person can be awarded. Some states pass laws like this to prevent frivolous lawsuits or runaway juries.
In the case of medical malpractice cases, they may argue that damage caps help keep healthcare costs lower, although others disagree. Stephen Cohen, a Forbes advisor, cites numerous studies that debunk the myth that damage caps would reduce frivolous cases or prevent juries from awarding outlandish sums.
Damage caps may or may not apply, depending on the type of damages.
Economic damages under Florida law include:
- Past lost income
- Future lost income
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Lost support and services
- Replacement value of lost personal property
- Any other economic loss that would not have occurred if the injury did not occur
Most states, including Florida, do not limit the amount of economic damages a claimant can recover.
Florida law defines non-economic damages as non-financial losses that would not have occurred if the injury did not occur, including losses such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Physical impairment
- Mental anguish
- Loss of capacity for enjoyment of life
Florida previously set a cap for non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits at $500,000 against medical practitioners and $1 million when the medical negligence contributed to a death. This limitation is still stated under Florida law.
However, in a 2017 case, the Florida Supreme Court found that non-economic damage caps in medical malpractice lawsuits are unconstitutional and a violation of the equal protection clause of the Florida Constitution. While the statute has not been updated, the Florida Supreme Court ruling prevents the limitation from being enforced.
Punitive damages differ from other types of damages, as those damages are intended to compensate victims. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing and prevent similar actions from occurring in the future. Florida law caps punitive damages at the greater of three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000.
Medical Malpractice Claims and Florida Caps
Even though Florida has declared damage caps on non-economic damages unconstitutional, there are still some cases where such caps may still apply, including those involving:
When the Government Is the Defendant
If the physician or hospital that is being sued is considered a government employee, the claim may be limited by sovereign immunity. Florida law limits the liability of the state, its agencies, and its subdivisions to $200,000 for a claim or $300,000 for all claims paid by the state arising out of the same incident. Additionally, punitive damages are not available.
Damage caps can also apply when the parties agree to resolve their dispute through Voluntary Binding Arbitration. This would occur at the end of a Medical Malpractice Presuit Investigation. Non-economic damages in these cases are limited to $250,000 per claimant. Other limitations can also apply.
A Lawyer Can Assist You With Your Medical Malpractice Claim
If you believe that you or a loved one was harmed because of medical malpractice and are concerned about the potential impact of damage caps on your claim, contact a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer for help.
Contact Our Medical Malpractice Law Firm in South Florida
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Fort Lauderdale Law Office
1975 E Sunrise Blvd Suite 702
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Boca Raton Law Office
7000 W Palmetto Park Rd #500
Boca Raton, FL 33433
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – West Palm Beach Law Office
319 Clematis St #203
West Palm Beach, FL 33401