Florida Supreme Court Issues New Ruling On Medical Malpractice Caps
Is there any amount of money that can make up for the pain and suffering after a medical malpractice incident? Permanently injured victims and the families of victims probably don’t think there is. Now the Florida Supreme Court agrees with them.
This week, the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee ruled that limiting non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases is unconstitutional.
What Are Non-Economic Damages?
Non-economic are also called non-pecuniary damages. This means that they are not readily valued in money. Certain losses after a medical malpractice, like medical bills, funeral costs, and lost wages, easily translate into dollar amounts. On the other hand, things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of independence are not as easy to quantify. A cap, placed in 2003, attempted to define how much pain and suffering was worth. It capped compensation at $500,000. For particularly catastrophic injuries, the cap was $1 million.
This week, however, the Florida Supreme Court wrote in their majority opinion that:
“We conclude that the caps on non-economic damages arbitrarily reduce damage awards for plaintiffs who suffer the most drastic injuries. We further conclude that because there is no evidence of a continuing medical malpractice discrimination between medical malpractice victims, there is no rational relationship between the personal injury noneconomic damage caps and alleviating this purported crisis.”
The Court’s Decision
According to the Florida Supreme Court’s new ruling, the previous cap actually harmed medical malpractice victims. For people with catastrophic and permanent injuries, including paralysis, blindness, and loss of limbs, the cap also prevented them from receiving reasonable compensation for their injuries. Injuries such as these can cause a large amount of pain and suffering, particularly when victims lose their former independence or mobility.
The changes stem from a medical malpractice case in Broward County. The victim, a dental assistant, underwent surgery for her carpal tunnel syndrome. During the anesthesia process, an improperly inserted tube perforated her esophagus. Along with economic damages, she suffered from constant pain and a loss of independence.
The new ruling has some opponents within the Florida Supreme Court, who accused the court of overstepping its boundaries in their minority opinion. For victims, though, it is an important step toward finding rightful compensation after a serious medical malpractice injury.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.