In its infinite wisdom (sarcasm intended), the Florida Legislature, in 2003, placed arbitrary caps on the amount of money persons harmed by medical negligence may recover for noneconomic damages. (Noneconomic damages are defined in Florida Statute 766.202(8) as follows: “Noneconomic damages” means nonfinancial losses that would not have occurred but for the injury giving rise to the cause of action, including pain and suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, and other nonfinancial losses to the extent the claimant is entitled to recover such damages under general law, including the Wrongful Death Act.) This blog will attempt to summarize the caps, as set forth in Florida Statute 766.118:
IF THE NEGLIGENCE IS COMMITTED BY A “PRACTITIONER” (“Practioners” include MDs, DOs, chiropractors, podiatrists, naturopathists, optometrists, dentists, midwives, physical therapists and nurse practioners as well as their employers (i.e. hospitals, private practice groups). See 766.118(1)(c)):
- For personal injury: $500,000 per claimant, regardless of the number of practitioner defendants, and no practioner shall be liable for more than $500,000, regardless of the number of claimants.
- For negligence resulting in a permanent vegetative state or death: $1,000,000 is the total amount recoverable from all practitioners, regardless of the number of claimants.
- In cases that do not involve death or permanent vegetative state, if the trial court determines that the patient has sustained a catastrophic injury and the noneconomic harm sustained by the injured patient was particularly severe: $1,000,000 total by all claimants from all practitioner defendants.
IF THE NEGLIGENCE IS COMMITTED BY A NONPRACTITIONER:
- Personal injury: $750,000 per claimant regardless of the number of nonpractitioner defendants.
- Permanent vegetative state or death: $1.5 million per claimant.
- In cases that do not involve death or permanent vegetative state, if the trial court determines that the patient has sustained a catastrophic injury and the noneconomic harm sustained by the injured patient was particularly severe: $1.5 million.
PRACTITIONERS PROVIDING EMERGENCY SERVICES AND CARE: $150,000 per claimant, $300,000 max regardless of the number of claimants.
NONPRACTITIONER DEFENDANTS PROVIDING EMERGENCY SERVICES AND CARE: $750,000 per claimant, $1.5 million max regardless of the number of claimants.
By instituting these caps, the Florida Legislature has removed the historic role of juries to determine the value of noneconomic damages based on evidence presented at trial. The caps determine damages without regard to the facts. Hence, my reason for calling the caps arbitrary.
Contact us at 866-785-GALE or by email to learn your legal rights.
Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.