Medical malpractice is when the negligence of a healthcare facility or professional results in an injury. If you have sustained such an injury, you can hire a medical malpractice attorney to recover compensatory damages. These medical malpractice damages cover the medical expenses incurred by your injury as well as other losses such as lost wages and lost earning capacity.
Many states impose a cap on the maximum amount of damages you can seek in a malpractice case. This is typically done to make sure that the amount of compensation is not too large to affect a professional’s or facility’s ability to treat patients.
When it comes to malpractice damages caps, it is important to understand the distinction between economic and non-economic damages. Many states impose a cap on non-economic damages alone.
What Are Non-economic Medical Malpractice Damages?
Non-economic damages are the damages you can seek for the pain, mental anguish, loss of companionship and other forms of subjective losses directly caused by the malpractice. They are termed non-economic damages as they apply to a form of loss that can’t be measured. Given the subjective nature of such losses, caps are often imposed to make sure the damages don’t exceed a certain maximum.
Caps on Non-Economic Medical Malpractice Damages in Florida
Until 2017, a variety of caps were used for non-economic damages in Florida malpractice lawsuits. These caps are defined in Florida Statutes Section 766.118.
As per this section, if the malpractice was caused by a practitioner’s negligence, the maximum amount of damages was $500,000 per claimant. If the negligence was caused by healthcare workers or emergency rooms, the cap was set at $150,000 per claimant or $300,000 for all the claimants. When the lawsuit was against a non-practitioner entity such as a healthcare facility, the maximum cap for non-economic damages was $750,000.
This cap was increased if the plaintiff in a malpractice lawsuit entered into a permanent vegetative state. In such a case, the amount was increased to $1,000,000 when filing against a practitioner and $1.5 million when filing against a non-practitioner.
However, in a landmark ruling by the Florida Supreme Court in North Broward Hosp. Dist. v. Kalitan, these caps were overturned. The court decided that the caps arbitrarily barred malpractice victims from seeking a fair compensation. As a result of this decision, Florida no longer has a cap on non-economic damages in practice, although these caps still exist in theory.
What Are Economic Damages?
Economic damages pertain to the measureable losses from a malpractice injury. These typically include the medical costs of the injury including the immediate costs of treatment, hospitalization costs, doctor’s fees, prescription medicine and more. Medical costs also cover the future medical treatment, therapy and rehabilitation you may need to fully recover from the malpractice injury.
In addition, economic damages also include loss of wages and lost earning capacity. If you are unable to resume work for a period after incurring the injury, economic damages include a percentage of your weekly wage.
Calculating the right amount of economic damages is a fairly complicated process and must take into account various factors. This is why it is best to hire a qualified malpractice attorney to help you in doing so.
Caps on Economic Damages in Florida
Florida has no caps on economic damages that can be sought in a medical malpractice lawsuit. This means that depending on the losses you incur due to the injury, you can apply for any amount of economic damages. However, it must be demonstrated in the court that these damages cover only the losses that are directly a result of the medical malpractice.
Hiring a Lakeland Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you have suffered a medical malpractice injury, you can file for compensatory damages on your own. However, a malpractice lawsuit is very complicated. You need to provide supporting evidence, including expert testimony, as well as medical records. Your claim must also meet a variety of other requirements. This is why it is recommended that you hire a qualified malpractice attorney when you decide to file a malpractice lawsuit in Lakeland, Florida.
Here at Burnetti, P.A., we have many years of experience in handling Lakeland medical malpractice lawsuits. Our Lakeland medical malpractice attorneys work closely with malpractice victims to understand their injuries and the related losses. We help you seek the maximum amount of compensation from the negligent party and advise you on both economic and non-economic damages. If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical negligence, contact us today. Book a FREE consultation with our attorneys and discuss your case in depth.