Florida Medical Malpractice Caps May Be Deemed Unconstitutional
Less than four months after the Florida Supreme Court declared that the state’s wrongful death non-economic damages cap was unconstitutional, the same ruling may also be announced for the state’s cap on personal injury medical malpractice non-economic damages. If the court rules in favor of eliminating this cap, then victims of medical malpractice will no longer be limited in the amount that they can receive in non-economic damages.
Compensation in personal injury, medical malpractice, or wrongful death cases can be split into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to costs that can be easily calculated like medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages refer to costs that cannot be so easily determined with a simple calculation. These damages include pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and emotional distress.
Wrongful Death Cap Deemed Unconstitutional
The move to strike the medical malpractice cap as unconstitutional in Florida began with a case four months ago, McCall v. United States. Michelle McCall’s estate sued on behalf of Ms. McCall after she died because of a medical malpractice issue. The court agreed that her wrongful death was caused by medical malpractice and awarded her estate a combined $2 million in economic and non-economic damages.
On appeal, the court cut the amount of damages in half because in 2003, Florida enacted a cap on non-economic damages for wrongful death medical malpractice claims. McCall’s estate appealed the order, claiming that the cap on non-economic damages was unconstitutional under Florida law. The Florida Supreme Court agreed and struck down the cap of $500,000 for non-economic damages in wrongful death medical malpractice claims.
Current Florida Supreme Court Case
The ruling in McCall could have a large impact on the current case that is under discussion in the Florida Supreme Court. In June, oral arguments were heard for Miles et al. v. Weingrad, a case that is very similar to McCall. The Weingrad case involves a claim for personal injury due to medical malpractice, and at issue is whether the cap on non-economic damages is unconstitutional.
In Weingrad, Kimberly Miles had leg surgery performed on her by Dr. Daniel Weingrad. Ms. Miles claims that the doctor unnecessarily removed residual melanoma, which has resulted in ongoing pain. The trial court initially gave Ms. Miles $1.5 million in non-economic damages, and on appeal Dr. Weingrad asked that the non-economic damages be capped at the state limit of $500,000. The appeals court agreed with the doctor, and Ms. Miles appealed the case to the Florida Supreme Court. This case varies slightly from McCall because the first case dealt with a wrongful death claim, whereas Weingrad deals with a personal injury claim.
The Florida Supreme Court is expected to rule in a similar fashion to McCall, and if it does it means victims who suffer injury as well as families suing for wrongful death in a medical malpractice case will not be limited in the non-economic damages that they can receive.
Contact a West Palm Beach Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
With the caps on non-economic damages being eliminated in medical malpractice cases in Florida, it means that victims can now finally get the full compensation that they deserve for their claims. If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury or wrongful death due to medical malpractice in the West Palm Beach or greater Florida area, call or contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Gary Roberts & Associates, P.A. today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.