Florida Supreme Court Rules Caps on Medical Malpractice Claims are Unconstitutional

Only a small percentage of medical negligence victims file a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Panama City, FL-The Florida Supreme Court handed medical malpractice victims a victory last week went justices ruled that monetary caps placed on medical malpractice claims are unconstitutional. The ruling reverses a law signed by Governor Jeb Bush in 2003 and will now allow victims of malpractice to recover fairer settlements.

The narrow 4-3 vote, affirms an appellate court decision that limited settlement amounts awarded for pain and suffering. At the time, proponents of the law insisted that failing to cap medical negligence claims would drive up insurance premiums and lead to a doctor shortage. The Legislature and the Gov. Bush accepted the assertions and imposed caps on specific noneconomic damages issued in medical malpractice claims.

Opponents of the law said the caps the unfairly affected victims, and the Florida Supreme Court agreed. In the decision majority justices wrote that caps “arbitrarily reduce damage awards for plaintiffs who suffer the most drastic injuries,” according to the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The opinion further concluded that because no evidence exists of a continuing medical malpractice insurance crisis, no relationship exists between the caps and “alleviating this purported crisis.” Justices also noted that there is no evidence to support claims that lifting the caps would lead to a doctor shortage.

Florida’s Supreme Court ruled that caps on noneconomic damages awarded in medical malpractice claims are unconstitutional.

The case centered on a Broward County woman whose esophagus was severely damaged during a routine surgery. She was in a coma for several weeks and underwent several surgical procedures. During her civil trial, the woman testified to the mental and physical struggles she endures every day.

A jury awarded her $4 million in noneconomic damages, but her settlement was reduced to $2 million because of the caps imposed on medical malpractice claims. Her award was reduced by $3.3 million, so she asked the 4th District Court of Appeal to reinstate the jury award.

Surgical Mistakes and Other Medical Malpractice Claims

Medical negligence can occur in any medical setting including the doctor’s office, a hospital, or a nursing home. The five most common medical malpractice claims according to Diedrich Healthcare include:

Diagnosis errors

Surgical errors

Treatment mistakes

Obstetrics

Medication

According to ProPublica, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. accounting for 225,000 deaths per year.

Less than 2 percent of medical malpractice victims seek compensation. And, the Justice Department reports that less than a fourth of medical malpractice claims result in a settlement which points to how difficult it is to win a medical malpractice claim.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Florida

Now that the cap on medical negligence claims has been lifted, victims have the opportunity to maximize the amount of compensation you receive. USAttorneys.com recommends you speak with a medical malpractice lawyer in Panama City, Florida if you would like to recover compensation. Call and set up a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.

Florida’s Supreme Court ruled that caps on noneconomic damages awarded in medical malpractice claims are unconstitutional.

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