Medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida are governed by a strict set of laws and regulations regarding filing, prosecuting and the amount of compensable damages. These rules make recovering for injury from malpractice extremely difficult. If you have been injured, make sure your claim follows Florida’s rules exactly or you run the risk of your case being dismissed for failure to abide by the state’s rules and recovering nothing for your damages.
Total Value Limitations
Florida limits the amount a party can receive for a malpractice claim. Non economic damages, such as those for pain and suffering cannot exceed one million dollars. Each patient is limited to $500,000 or one million dollars if the patient died.
There is no limitation on the amount of economic damages that can be awarded an injured party. Economic damages are those damages the injured party incurred from the injury that he owes or was required to pay out of pocket. These damages include medical costs, lost wages and other similar, easily calculable expenses.
Patient Compensation Fund
The state of Florida has established the Patient Compensation Fund, which is a fund intended to compensate parties injured through medical malpractice above and beyond the amounts awarded by the physician’s insurance company. Note that Florida does not require all physicians to carry medical malpractice insurance, however, so compensation from this fund may be the only available to an injured party. A second similarly-intended fund is offered solely for individuals injured due to birth-related malpractice.
Limitations on Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are those damages awarded to an injured party solely to punish the wrongdoing party. Florida law only permits punitive damage awards when they are three times or less than the amount of compensable damages. Compensable damages include medical costs and expenses incurred from damage caused by the physician’s malpractice. In any situation, punitive damages cannot exceed $500,000, unless the physician exhibited a clear intent to harm the patient.
Further Reduction of Compensation: Collateral Payments
Any award provided to an injured party will be reduced by the amount of compensation he is receiving from other sources. Insurance companies and other parties are considered collateral sources. The exact amount previously or anticipated to be received are deducted from the total award value.
Getting Legal Help
Florida has taken several steps to prevent medical malpractice compensation awards from being extremely large. If you were injured as a result of medical malpractice in Florida, seek legal assistance with your claim. An attorney will detail the compensation amounts allowed by the law and available to you.