Are There Limitations on Damages In Florida Medical Malpractice Cases?
Caps previously in place ranged from $150,000 up to $1,500,000 based on the type of injury sustained and the type of defendant—for instance, a doctor, hospital, or another healthcare provider. The Florida Supreme Court decided in 2017 that the caps were unconstitutional and struck them down.
For help understanding your damages, contact the Florida medical malpractice lawyers at Medical Malpractice Help today.
What Is Florida’s History of Caps on Medical Malpractice Damages?
In 2003, Florida enacted a state law limiting the amount of non-economic damages a claimant can receive based on the type of injury and various types of defendants. The placed a number of restrictions on the compensation victims of medical negligence could recover.
Damage Limits for Practitioners
The law, for instance, placed a limit of $500,000 per claimant for personal injury or wrongful death in a nonemergency situation. This cap remained in place regardless of the number of doctors involved. Even if 12 doctors contributed to a patient’s injuries—and all of them were culpable for malpractice—the patient could collect only $500,000 in total.
The law also stated that no practitioner is liable for more than $500,000 in non-economic damages, regardless of the number of claimants. The limitation on damages increased to $1,000,000 if the patient died or was in a permanent vegetative state.
Damage Limits for Nonpractitioners
In a case involving a nonpractitioner, the standard limitation on damages was $750,000 per claimant. If the nonpractitioner’s medical negligence resulted in death or permanent vegetative state, the limit increased to $1,500,000.
Damage Limits for Emergency Situations
The limitation on non-economic damages for claims against practitioners providing emergency services and care was $150,000 per claimant, with a total cap of $300,000.
For claims against nonpractitioners, the cap on damages was $750,000 per claimant, with an aggregate cap of $1,500,000 for all claimants against all nonpractitioner defendants.
In situations involving emergency care, the limitation on damages did not increase for cases involving death or permanent vegetative state. This was true whether a practitioner or nonpractitioner administered the care.
Why Did the Courts Challenge Limitations on Non-Economic Damages?
In a 2014 case, the Florida Supreme Court decided that the limitation on non-economic damages for medical malpractice claims involving wrongful death “violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Florida Constitution.” In Estate of McCall v. United States, the Court struck down that section of the law because, among other reasons, “it imposes unfair and illogical burdens on injured parties.”
The Court’s decision in this case, however, applied only to wrongful death claims, not to medical malpractice claims that involved personal injury or other non-fatal damages.
Legal Changes for Non-Fatal Malpractice Cases
McCall v. United States left open the question of whether limitations on damages for non-fatal malpractice cases also violate the Florida Constitution. In 2017, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal held that it does in North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan.
In October 2016, the Florida Second District Court of Appeal upheld the North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan decision in a new case, Port Charlotte HMA, LLC v. Suarez.
Finally, in June 2017, the Florida Supreme Court officially struck down the caps on wrongful death and personal injury damages in medical malpractice cases.
Why Did Lawmakers Originally Establish Damage Caps in Florida?
The Florida Legislature’s rationale for enacting the limitations on non-economic damages was to address a potential medical malpractice crisis at the time of its passage in 2003. However, no data or other evidence suggests the existence of a malpractice crisis at present.
Accordingly, the stated objective for the caps no longer exists.
How Can I Talk to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Florida About My Possible Damages?
At Medical Malpractice Help, our team wants to help you win fair compensation for your medical malpractice damages. We can calculate the damages you could recover in your medical malpractice case, and determine if you qualify for other compensation like punitive damages.
We offer free case evaluations to answer all your questions. Call our office today at 855-633-2757 for more information.
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