The state of Florida passed a cap on medical malpractice damages years ago due to the efforts of lobbyists appointed by doctors and insurance companies. While this is certainly beneficial for these groups, particularly in the case of truly unjust medical malpractice claims, it shortchanges victims and the families of victims who have valid medical malpractice claims.
These caps particularly pertain to non-economic damages—characteristics of an injury that can not be easily quantified in dollars, such as enjoyment of life, pain, mental anguish, suffering and other characteristics. Yes, these are hard to translate into specific dollar amounts, but it doesn’t mean that they are any less real than an actual quantifiable injury. The cap for medical malpractice non-economic damages was set at $500,000 to $1M, meaning even if a jury awards more than this amount it will be reduced.
Florida Supreme Court Eliminates Cap
Fortunately this cap was eliminated. This cap was in place for nine years between 2005 and 2014 before it was challenged by a malpractice victim. The legal representation of this victim of course claimed that the cap was unconstitutional. The court decided that the cap was indeed unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clause, which states that two classes of people cannot be discriminated against under non-rational distinctions.
The particular problem within this area of contention for the court was that the cap was aggregate, meaning it had to be shared amongst every plaintiff in a case. This watered down the payout to potentially negligible amounts, and certainly not enough in many cases to help victims with their non-economic losses.
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No Medical Malpractice Crisis in Florida
The legislature asserted that a crisis existed in Florida regarding medical malpractice, made up of lawsuits decided by juries too strongly affected by emotion. In fact, juries did not even decide many of the $1M+ cases because they were settled.
Other ramifications of the so-called medical malpractice crisis included insurance premium increases, but these were found by the court to be related to standard economic fluctuations within the insurance industry, not enormous payouts to plaintiffs. One justification for the caps on claims was that they reduced premiums, which helped doctors deal with the supposed crisis. However, these savings were not required to doctors, so the idea of this being a solution was not concrete.
Contact the West Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyers at Fetterman & Associates, PA
Have you or a loved one been involved in an incidence of medical malpractice? Citizens should be able to trust their doctors and health care providers literally with their lives. Malpractice simply has no other conclusion except restitution. You deserve justice, and we are happy to speak with you about your case. Call us now for a free consultation at 561-983-4584.