Is There a Cap on Medical Malpractice Claims in Florida?

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Medical malpractice lawsuits are a grave matter, and as such, they tend to involve very high stakes. The payouts for medical injury lawsuits in Florida are normally very high, reaching over a million dollars in extreme cases. As such, defendants will do everything in their power to fight back and reduce this amount.

So, is there a cap on medical malpractice in Florida? As it turns out, this is not as simple a question as it may appear. Several different factors affect whether or not Florida limits medical malpractice damages in specific cases. Additionally, some recent Florida Supreme Court rulings are likely to alter the status quo concerning capping medical malpractice damages.

To answer this question thoroughly, we’ll have to go into some detail. Read on below for a more thorough understanding of medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida.

Does Florida Put a Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages?

So, is there a cap on medical malpractice in Florida? Unfortunately, the answer is both yes and no. Depending on who the defendant is and the nature of the case, there are some situations in which the potential payouts for medical malpractice damages will be limited to a certain amount in Florida. However, in other cases, these limitations do not apply.

The distinction depends on whether the defendant is a licensed medical practitioner or not and whether the damages being sued for are economic or non-economic. We’ll explain the differences in more detail in the sections below. However, a relatively recent Florida Supreme Court ruling has complicated the situation even further, so this information will also need to be considered.

Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages

In Florida, any caps on medical malpractice damages can only be applied to non-economic damages. This means that when it comes to compensating the plaintiff for their medical payments that occurred due to the medical malpractice in question, the damages cannot be limited. The plaintiff has to sue for enough money to cover the cost of both past and future healthcare needs that are a direct result of the malpractice.

However, when suing for non-economic damages, some limits can affect the amounts. This applies to suing for abstract things like anxiety, trauma, mental anguish, pain, suffering, loss of companionship, and other factors like this. Because these concepts are subjective and difficult to monetize, a cap is applied to the damages associated with these specific complaints.

Medical Practitioners vs. Non-Practitioners 

When caps on medical malpractice damages apply, there is a distinction between defendants who are licensed medical practitioners and defendants who are non-practitioners. The monetary limitations are different depending on which of these two categories the defendant falls into.

For doctors and professional healthcare providers in Florida, the cap on non-economic malpractice damages is set at $500,000 for most cases. A few specific factors can cause this cap to be extended to $1 million for certain cases, such as in the event of wrongful death, extremely severe injuries, or if the plaintiff has been put in a vegetative state as a result of the malpractice.

The same monetary limitations, as they apply to defendants who are non-practitioners, are $750,000 and $1.5 million, respectively.

Florida Supreme Court Ruling

The final factor that complicates the answer to the question “Is there a cap on medical malpractice in Florida?” is the 2017 Florida Supreme Court decision in North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan. In this case, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that caps on medical malpractice damages written in the statutes were unconstitutional. The decision was reached on account of the perception that these limitations were arbitrarily interpreted and enforced.

As a result of this decision, while the statutes delineate the aforementioned caps on paper, they are not usually enforced in practice. As this is a rather complex legal situation, speaking with a Florida attorney would be advisable if you have questions about your specific medical malpractice case.

Get Quality Legal Representation Today

This guide will serve as a good starting point for your lawsuit. But, you will need an expert attorney to provide advice specific to your situation and represent you in court. Florida also requires you jump over many hurdles before officially filing your claim.

If you are interested in suing for medical malpractice in Florida, legal representation can assist you with your case. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Florida medical injury attorneys to find out how our firm can assist during this difficult time.

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