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Florida Supreme Court Strikes Down Caps on Medical Malpractice Awards

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As many Floridians likely recall, in 2003 the state’s medical malpractice system was overhauled by the state legislature. Governor Jeb Bush eventually signed a law that imposed strict limits on the amount in non-economic damages that malpractice victims could recover for their injuries.

This means that the amount of compensation recovered for quality-of-life damages, such as emotional distress and pain and suffering, is now greatly limited. At the time, legislators claimed the restrictions were necessary due to a “crisis” that was occurring in the medical malpractice insurance markets, as healthcare providers complained of high premiums.

While this might have been good news for negligent doctors, hospitals, and the like, it was a harsh blow for victims of medical negligence, who often depend on recovering these damages to put their life back together.

New Ruling from the Florida Supreme Court

In a recent verdict, Florida’s Supreme Court might be changing that. The court recently decided on a case that has been making its way up the appeals circuit the last few years, and the results are welcome news for malpractice victims.

In 2007, a dental assistant named Susan Kalitan underwent a surgery to treat her carpal tunnel. Unfortunately, negligence during the anesthesia process led to a perforated esophagus. Kalitan filed a medical malpractice suit in 2008 and was awarded a well-deserved $4 million in non-economic damages.

Because of the 2003 medical malpractice reform, her award was reduced to $2 million in non-economic damages. Kalitan appealed and received a verdict in her favor. The case eventually made its way to the Florida Supreme Court, who stood by the appeals court ruling, finding the damage caps unconstitutional.

Decision Not Unanimous

While the majority of the court ruled in Kalitan’s favor, there was some dissent. Justice Ricky Polston wrote that he believed the court was infringing upon the territory of the legislative branch, stating that it was the legislature’s duty to determine whether a malpractice crisis existed and how it should be addressed.

However, the majority felt that there was not sufficient evidence of a crises, and that the decision to limit non-economic damage recovery was simply arbitrary. They also felt that if there truly were a crisis, there was not sufficient evidence that the damage caps would alleviate it.

Palm Beach Medical Malpractice Lawyer

At the Law Offices of Casey D. Shomo, we welcome the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling. Lifting the non-economic damage caps would be good for the victims of medical negligence, as they deserve to be fully compensated for everything they’ve been through. Just because a loss isn’t monetary in nature, that doesn’t mean it’s somehow less deserving of compensation.

If you’ve been injured through medical malpractice, we can help. Simply schedule a free consultation to discuss your case in detail. Just complete the form on this page, or give us a call at 561-659-6366.