What are Florida's medical malpractice caps on damages?

If you suspect a healthcare professional or institution caused your injury, contact our medical malpractice attorneys today. Our Florida team is experienced with local laws and will offer you the most knowledgeable approach to collecting compensation. 

We can also advise you regarding Florida’s medical malpractice caps on damages and how those might affect your claim.

Keep reading to learn more, and call us today for a free consultation.


What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a legal term that refers to negligence by a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other medical professional.

Medical malpractice can happen when the negligent party’s conduct during the course of providing care causes injury or death.

It can also occur when there are serious errors in judgment during diagnostic tests and treatments which lead to incorrect diagnosis and treatment decisions.  

Medical malpractice does not include any error in judgment made by the patient (e.g., refusing surgery) or an act of God (e.g., natural disasters).  

Medical professionals who commit medical malpractice may be liable for both compensatory damages (i.e., money awarded to compensate victims for losses) and punitive damages (i.e., money awarded to punish the negligent party).


Who is liable for medical malpractice?

Individuals who provide health care services can be held responsible for medical malpractice under several theories, including:

  • Negligent Treatment  – This occurs when a doctor or other caregiver fails to provide treatment to a patient in a manner consistent with the medical standard of care.
  • Errors in Diagnosis  – If a doctor or other caregiver fails to properly diagnose a patient’s condition, that person may be liable. A misdiagnosis can have serious consequences for the patient, including worsened illness and long-term health problems following incorrect treatment.
  • Negligent Monitoring  – This occurs when a doctor or other caregiver fails to monitor a patient’s condition in treatment or under anesthesia, which can lead to serious injury or death.
  • Negligent Management of Care  – This occurs when hospital staff fails to properly manage care for patients with specific health conditions.


Types of Damages From Medical Malpractice

The effects of medical malpractice are often devastating for patients and their families. Victims may experience avoidable injury or death.

They may also face long-term health problems following incorrect treatments due to what was originally diagnosed as flu but turned out to be cancer.

Medical professionals who commit malpractice are liable for all of the damages that they caused to their patients. This includes:

  • Medical costs for the treatment or surgery that is associated with the malpractice claim.
  • Costs of future treatments related to physical damages from the malpractice claim.
  • Pain and suffering that results from the malpractice claim.
  • Lost wages or loss of earning capacity due to medical errors during surgery, diagnoses, or other treatments.


What are damage caps?

Damage caps are regulatory limits on the amount of money victims can receive in cases of medical malpractice.

It’s important to understand that damage caps refer to specific types of injury claims.

For instance, medical malpractice damage caps would be different from damage caps for wrongful death.

The purpose of damage caps is to protect the medical profession by limiting their liability and reducing rates of malpractice insurance premiums.

However, this prevents victims from being able to recover full damages if they are catastrophically injured. A victim who loses a limb shouldn’t be limited to the same cap as someone who was given the wrong type of antibiotic. However, that’s essentially what a damage cap does.


Does Florida have a cap on damages from medical malpractice?

In most cases, Florida has a damage cap of $500,000. However, if the medical malpractice caused death or a vegetative state, then the cap is raised to $1 million.

However, if the individual who perpetrated the malpractice was not a medical practitioner, then the noneconomic damage cap is $750,000.

These caps only apply to noneconomic damages. This includes pain and suffering, anxiety, scarring, disfigurement, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Economic damages, including medical costs, are not bound by these limits. This is because they would limit the victim’s ability to get the treatment they need to undo or correct the malpractice and its physical effects.

In 2017, Florida’s Supreme Court ruled that the cap on noneconomic damages for medical malpractice was unconstitutional. The courts ruled in this way after seeing that individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries or were left in a vegetative state could only collect the same amount of damages, even though one of these plaintiffs clearly suffered a greater decrease in quality of life.

So, although the damages cap still exists in Florida, it is no longer able to be upheld in malpractice claims.


Contact a Malpractice Lawyer

If you believe that you have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact a lawyer to help file a claim. The legal team at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath is ready to assist clients who are grappling with how much their injury will affect them for years to come.

We offer personalized service and additional support so our clients can get back on track faster than they would without an attorney by their side. 

If you’ve experienced serious injuries due to someone else’s negligence or mistakes during treatment or surgery, we want to hear from you!

Our attorneys understand all the nuances of Florida law pertaining to these types of cases and know what steps need to be taken next if medical malpractice occurs. Reach out to us today for a free consultation to take the first steps to get your life back.


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