Medical Malpractice Damage Caps in Florida
Medical malpractice is a particularly dreadful form of lawsuit because it involves some of the people we trust the most: doctors and nurses. Nonetheless, they’re capable of damage too and because of their line of work, that harm can be particularly long term. That’s why medical malpractice so often seeks damages to help make one’s life easier in the wake of a botched surgery, procedure, etc. One important facet of these lawsuits that most people don’t know about, though, is damage caps.
Medical Malpractice as a Personal Injury Claim
Personal injury law covers a wide range of claims. Slip and falls are a common one. Car accidents often result in personal injury claims too. Medical malpractice falls under this category as well.
The reason we bring this up is because it goes to damages. When you’re the victim of medical malpractice, there are various versions you could sue for. Generally, these can be split into “economic” and “non-economic.” Economic are the objective ones: how much money you’ll need for ongoing care, what it’s cost you so far, what you’ll need to modify your home or car, etc. Non-economic damages are the subjective ones that are tough to quantify. This would be things like mental anguish and pain and suffering.
When it comes to medical malpractice, states have something called damage caps. These are laws that effectively limit the amount of damages that can be given out for a medical malpractice suit. In most states, damage caps only apply to non-economic payouts. Anything you can prove you are owed because of things you need (economic damages) is beyond reproach.
Every state has their own max for damage caps. However, the federal limit is currently sitting at $250,000 for non-economic damages.
Although damage caps may seem unfair to the plaintiff, the idea is actually to help out the consumer. Without damage caps, the logic goes, the heavy price of doing business in this type of industry would be passed onto the people. Instilling damage caps helps bring those costs down to something more affordable.
Damage Caps in Florida
Florida has a slightly different version of the damage cap. However, like other states, they only limit non-economic damages.
The main thing that sets Florida’s approach apart—and, arguably, makes it more complicated—is that it has different caps when it comes to defendants who weren’t practitioners.
For the most part, practitioners refers to physicians, dentists, physical therapists, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, etc. However, it also refers to their assistants as well. On top of that, their corporations, associations, partnerships, firms and other business entities fall into this category too.
Florida also has a lower cap on damages for emergency service workers or any practitioner who was working in an emergency situation.
Practitioners vs. Non-Practitioners
The cap for non-economic damages for practitioners is $500,000, but that’s per plaintiff. A million dollars is the limit for all practitioners and plaintiffs in any given case. This is a generalization though. If someone died, then there is no cap, as of 2014.
In cases with a non-practitioner, damages won’t go over $750,000. All plaintiffs can only sue for $1.5 million from all non-practitioner defendants as well.
There are a number of other exceptions that may play a role in your claim though. Things like catastrophic injuries and the level of negligence could all come into play.
Hopefully, this has helped shed some light on the medical malpractice damage cap in Florida, but you most likely will still want legal help if you ever have to deal with it in the future. If you actually find yourself the victim of medical malpractice, then it’s absolutely essential you have a qualified attorney go to bat for you.