LEGAL HEALTH NEWS – Florida Supreme Court says NO MORE Medical Malpractice Caps
Fort Myers personal injury attorney Scot D. Goldberg talks about the court decision ruling them unconstitutional.
On March 13, 2014, the Florida Supreme Court made a decision on whether or not there should be limits on compensation for medical malpractice lawsuits, and ruled that state statutes on capping the noneconomic damages for compensation should be overturned, calling them unconstitutional.
“The courts should not even have had to deal with this so-called ‘crisis' in the first place”, says Fort Myers personal injury attorney Scot Goldberg of Goldberg, Racila, D'Alessandro & Noone. “Those caps or limits, which were enacted in 2003 by Jeb Bush's administration, did not do what the insurance industry said they would do – all they did was punish people who were seriously injured by a Florida physician.”
The court rejected the med mal caps in a vote of 5-2, stating that the limits to cap the financial awards to victims of injury or death who file a medical malpractice lawsuit ‘violated the equal protection guarantee found in the state's constitution'.
“This ‘crisis' was driven by the insurance companies, and the claim was that doctors were going to start leaving Florida in droves because of high medical malpractice costs,” says Goldberg. “That hasn't happened, and the caps on med mal cases worked only as a way to keep people from getting what they are entitled to under the law.”
Until the ruling, Florida capped noneconomic damages for doctor's liability at $500,000 in the majority of med mal cases, and $1 million in cases where a death occurred.
These most recent developments came out of the case of Michelle McCall vs the Federal Government from 2006, when McCall died while giving birth under the treatment of U.S. Air Force doctors at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. McCall's parents and son were awarded $2 million, but that was reduced to $1 million by a federal court, noting the limits imposed in the state of Florida.
The overturning of the statutes as unconstitutional by the Florida court makes this the seventh state to make such a ruling. There are thirty-five states that currently have some type of caps on medical malpractice awards.
“The doctors in Florida are crying foul, and already saying more of them will begin to leave the state, again,” noted Goldberg. “The fact is that if someone is badly hurt or even loses their life because of a doctor's mistake, they now have a much better chance of being properly and fully compensated for their economic and noneconomic damages.”
If you want to talk with us or find out more about how the overturning of Florida's medical malpractice cap might affect you, we'd love to hear from you. Our phone numbers are at the top (and bottom!) of every page, or feel free to fill out our contact form if that's better for you.