Florida Medical Malpractice Victims May Soon be Able to Get Higher Jury Awards
If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, you know it can be a devastating event. Victims of doctor or hospital negligence may soon be able to be fully compensated for the full value of their economic and noneconomic damages. The Florida Supreme Court is currently hearing a case about whether the current legislative cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits is constitutional.
In 2007 a woman named Susan Kalitan sued her hospital and doctors for medical malpractice after a botched carpal tunnel surgery ended up with her having a perforated esophagus from errors with anesthesia. The jury in her case ended up awarding her $4.7 million in damages. However, there was a problem with this jury award. The issue was that in 2003 the Florida legislature passed a law that limited the amount of noneconomic damages that victims of medical malpractice could receive to $500,000 from practitioners and $750,000 from non-practitioners. The defendants appealed the decision and the case eventually went in front of the 4th District Court of Appeals, which ruled that the damage caps were unconstitutional and reinstated the $4.7 million award. Now the Florida Supreme Court is hearing the case and will hopefully hand down a decision that will clarify whether these damage caps can stand.
What are Noneconomic Damages?
Noneconomic damages refer to intangible injuries. The purpose of medical malpractice, and all of tort law, is to try to make the victims “whole” again by compensating them for the injuries that were the fault of someone else’s negligence. With some kinds of damages it can be relatively easy to put a price on them. These tend to be economic damages. For example, medical bills and lost wages are economic damages because it is money that an injured person has to spend, or misses out on making, because of their injuries. Noneconomic damages usually refer to things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of companionship. It may be hard to put an actual number on these injuries, but they are injuries nonetheless and things that a victim had to endure because of the negligence of another.
How Could the Supreme Court Ruling Change Things?
The Florida Supreme Court has already decided that caps on wrongful death damages are unconstitutional, and now it has to decide whether these caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases are allowable. If the court decides that the caps are unconstitutional, then victims will be able to get compensated for their full loss. It the court finds otherwise, they will have to find a way to square that decision with the previous decisions.
Tampa, Florida Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Attorneys
If you have been a victim of medical malpractice you need to contact a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as you can. Our skilled Tampa personal injury attorneys at the Romero Law Firm can help you with your personal injury and medical malpractice claims. Contact us today.