Understanding Florida's Cap on Damages
Although highly controversial, Florida is one of a handful of states with a statute of limitations on the amount of damages one can receive in a medical malpractice lawsuit. What this means is that, depending on your individual medical malpractice case, state law will dictate the maximum amount of financial compensation you can receive if you win your case. That being said, however, the law also contains numerous exceptions – including allowing the court to choose to either increase or eliminate the damage cap.
What makes the Florida damage cap unique is that, unlike other states, the cap is placed only on non-economic damages. Also referred to as hedonic damages, non-economic damages refer to your subjective loss of enjoyment of life as a result of the injuries incurred from the medical negligence. Common examples of economic damages include: pain and suffering, loss of companionship, physical impairment, permanent injuries like scarring, and emotional distress. This is contrast to economic damages, which cover the financial and economic losses you incur as a result of your injuries. Economic damages typically include past and future medical costs, loss of income and loss of future earning capacity.
Florida’s damage cap is also unique in that it distinguishes between negligence involving a medical practitioner from negligence involving a non-medical practitioner. The law defines a medical practitioner as not only a licensed physician, but also corporations, associations, partnerships, firms and similar businesses in which physicians practice. If the act was caused by a medical practitioner, in general the law caps damages at $500,000. An exception to this rule is when the injury involves death, permanent vegetative state, severe non-economic harm or catastrophic injury. In such cases, the law allows for a cap of $1,000,000. On the other hand, when the injury involves a non-practitioner, Florida law caps damages at $750,000, with an exception for a cap of $1,500,000 when the injury involves death, permanent vegetative state, severe non-economic harm or catastrophic injury.
Florida case law also tends to favor lower damage caps in cases involving emergency services and Medicaid recipients. In such cases, the damage cap tends to be $150,000 for emergency service injuries and $300,000 for Medicaid recipients.
To understand how Florida’s damage cap law may affect your claim – and to see if you qualify for an exception – seek the advice of an experienced Florida medical malpractice law firm. The Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A. has decades of experience in the field of Florida medical malpractice. To schedule your free initial consultation, call us today at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587).
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