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Medical Malpractice

Noneconomic damages are capped in Florida medical malpractice cases

What’s fair is fair.  Well, not always.  Even if a jury decides your medical malpractice injury is significant, the award can be slashed by Florida law. 

 § 766.118, Fla. Stat. caps noneconomic damages, which include pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life and other nonfinancial losses.  Generally, noneconomic damages are limited to $500,000 for practitioners, like doctors and their employees, and $750,000 for non-practitioners, like hospitals and clinics.  “If the negligence resulted in a permanent vegetative state or death,” however, the limits are increased for practitioners and non-practitioners to $1 million and $1.5 million, respectively. 

Seem unfair?  Maybe.   As one token though, the caps for practitioners and non-practitioners apply cumulatively.  See Estate of McCall v. U.S., 663 F.Supp.2d 1276 (N.D. Fla. 2009).  For example, if the patient’s death resulted from the negligence of both a practitioner and a non-practitioner, the estate may recover noneconomic damages from both, subject to the appropriate cap.  Although it is somewhat of a debate, the aggregations of the caps is supported by the legislative history for § 768.118, Fla. Stat. (2011).  Senator Smith explained that “the cap would be 1.5 million against the facility and one million against the practitioner.”  In the house floor debates, Rep. Goodlette explained that “negligence both by a medical practitioner and also by a hospital could lead to a maximum of $2.5 million in noneconomic damages.”

If a physician’s malpractice causes your loved one harm, his or her non-economic damages are limited, at most, to $2.5 million even if a jury decided to award more.  Don’t believe that’s fair?  Contact your Florida legislature today and let them know how you feel.

If you, or someone you know, have been injured as the result of negligence, medical malpractice or a dangerous or defective product, contact me at (305) 358-3109 or mmazzarella@hannonboyers.com today for a free evaluation of your claim.

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Author

Matthew Mazzarella is a trial attorney at Hannon & Boyers, P.A.

Warning

The comments on this blog are provided for informational purposes only and DO NOT constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship.

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