Last Vestiges of Florida’s Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages Fall
A new documentary film on Netflix—The Bleeding Edge—highlights what a significant cause of injury and death medical interventions and medical harm have become in America, in spite of how technologically advanced the country is. In fact, medical errors have become such a huge issue that any state that imposes medical malpractice caps on damage awards is arguably doing a serious injustice to those harmed by doctors and other medical professionals.
For many years—and until recently—Florida was one of those states. However, recent rulings on the issue of Florida’s caps on intangible damages—specifically, rulings that declared the caps to be unconstitutional—are a major victory for Floridians harmed by medical mistakes, as we discuss in detail below.
History of Florida’s Cap on Malpractice Damages
Those who were supportive of Florida’s statutory malpractice caps claimed that they were necessary because insurance in the state was becoming astronomically expensive. Somehow, supporters of the caps argued that good doctors were leaving the state out of a fear of large verdicts, thus resulting in an overall lack of quality healthcare for Floridians. As a result, Florida’s statutory scheme capped all pain and suffering damages that could be awarded in medical malpractice cases.
Florida High Courts Find Constitutional Issues With Caps
Last year, the Florida Supreme Court declared that a general cap on intangible damages in medical malpractice and wrongful death cases violated the Equal Protection Clause of Florida’s constitution. This led to a similar decision that general caps in all medical malpractice and personal injury cases was, similarly, unconstitutional. As a result, the only damages cap left remaining in Florida existed under state Arbitration statutes; which specifically state that, if a claimant rejected a defendant’s offer to enter voluntary binding arbitration, the damages awardable at trial were limited to net economic damages, plus noneconomic damages not to exceed $350,000 per incident.
Recent Ruling Destroys Last Vestiges of Medical Malpractice Caps
However, Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Jose M. Rodriguez recently declared the last remaining arbitration caps to be unconstitutional in response to the doctor/defendant’s post-trial motion to reduce the jury’s verdict in a medical negligence case. The Judge held that, if higher courts held that capping recovery in medical malpractice cases was unconstitutional, so was that same law limiting a plaintiff’s recovery simply because they decided not to engage in arbitration with the defendant.
Consult With Our Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a medical error or harm, contact our experienced Florida medical malpractice, personal injury, and wrongful death attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan today to find out how we can work to ensure that no limit is placed on any pain and suffering damages your family is awarded.