Florida’s limitations on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases

Floridians may be surprised to learn that noneconomic damages – such as damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life- are limited by Florida law in medical malpractice lawsuits.Florida’s medical malpractice statutes provide for various categories of limitations regarding persons claiming noneconomic damages against doctors and medical staff.

However, a recent decision from the Missouri Supreme Court may provide persuasive support for courts and lawmakers in Florida, as well as in other states, to re-evaluate Florida’s limitation on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. In a 4-3 decision, the Missouri high court held that a 2005 Missouri law capping noneconomic damages at $350,000 in medical malpractice cases violates a right to a jury trial that has been embedded in the state constitution since in 1820. In its holding, the Missouri Supreme Court stated that the cap “infringe[d] on [a] jury’s constitutionally protected purpose of determining the amount of damages sustained by an injured party[.]”

Similar to the Missouri state constitution, Florida’s state constitution provides for an express right of trial by jury. Specifically, “[t]he right of trial by jury shall be secure to all and remain inviolate.”Whether or not the reasoning of the Missouri Supreme Court in striking down noneconomic damages limitations would work in Florida, the decision in Missouri is a persuasive force in the fight against pro-defendant tort reform.

The law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes has been serving the community and representing those affected by medical malpractice since 1955. If you, a family member, or a friend ever have questions about your legal rights, do not hesitate to contact Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes. Theconsultation is always free and you will meet with the attorney who will be handling your case. Here at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes, we will see you through.

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