In 2003, a law was passed in Florida that limited the amount of money damages an injured patient could receive in medical malpractice cases. Specifically, the law placed limits on the amount of pain and suffering damages that victims could collect from a lawsuit. These types of damages are also known as non-economic damages.
In 2008, Susan Kalitan was getting surgery for carpal-tunnel syndrome. However, her doctors improperly inserted tubes into her esophagus as part of the anesthesia process and Kalitan ended up suffering from a perforated esophagus. She sued the North Broward Hospital District and her anesthesiologist. She asked for $4.7 million in damages, with $4 million of that being non-economic damages. However, this amount was about $2 million above the cap put in place by the 2003 law.
Now, the 4th District Court of Appeals in Florida has ruled that these limitations on the amount of non-economic damages that can be collected are unconstitutional. In 2014, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that these caps on damages amounts were unconstitutional in wrongful death lawsuits. Now, the Appeals Court has cited to the Supreme Court’s decision in arguing that the caps are also unconstitutional for personal injury suits.
The basis for this argument is that the caps are a violation of equal protection. Those with non-economic damages below the cap-level can receive their damages in full, while those who have non-economic damages above the cap are unable to receive a full award.
According to CBS Miami, the law was passed in 2003 after a fierce political debate. Hospitals, doctors, and other medical professionals argued that the caps were necessary to avoid against ever-increasing medical malpractice, insurance costs. However, opponents, which included plaintiffs’ attorneys, argued that such a law would be unfair to injured victims.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a medical professional’s recklessness or gross negligence, please call 617-787-3700 now to speak with one of our expert Massachusetts medical malpractice attorneys or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.