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Florida's Cap for Medical Malpractice Damages

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What Are Medical Malpractice Damage Caps?

Many states have laws that limit the damages available to medical malpractice plaintiffs. Most states limit only "non-economic" damages. Non-economic damages are subjective, unquantifiable losses such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship, and disfigurement. States usually do not limit "economic" damages, which are objective, quantifiable losses including medical bills, lost wages, and lost future earnings.

Does Florida Cap Medical Malpractice Damages?

Florida limits medical malpractice damages available to plaintiffs. Like the limitations in most other states, Florida’s limitations apply only to "non-economic" damages. Florida does not limit "economic" damages.

Florida’s laws regarding medical malpractice caps are more complicated than most other states. Florida imposes different limitations for damages against "non-practitioner" defendants than for damages against "practitioner" defendants (e.g., physicians, physician assistants, medical assistants, chiropractors, naturopaths, optometrists, podiatrists, midwives, dentists, dental hygienists, physical therapists, and registered nurses).

By definition, "practitioner" also includes associations, corporations, firms, partnerships, or other business entities  under which a practitioner practices. The definition of "practitioner" also includes any employee of a practitioner or business entity acting within the scope of her employment.

Florida also imposes lower limitations for damages resulting from emergency services and care. Finally, Florida imposes lower limitations on damages resulting from care provided by practitioners to Medicaid recipients. The following outline explains the most common categories of malpractice damage limits:

Damage Caps against Practitioners in Florida

  • Limitations Generally: Non-economic damages shall not exceed $500,000 per plaintiff, and no practitioner defendant shall be liable for more than $500,000 in non-economic damages. Also, the total non-economic damages recoverable from all plaintiffs against all practitioners shall not exceed $1,000,000.
  • Death or Permanent Vegetative State: In March 2014, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the $1 million medical malpractice cap on wrongful death was unconstitutional under Florida’s constitution. The justices ruled 5-2 in favor of the victim’s family.
  • Severe Non-Economic Harm and Catastrophic Injury: There is another exception to the general rule: if the non-economic harm to the plaintiff is particularly severe and the negligence caused a "catastrophic injury," the total non-economic damages recoverable from all practitioners shall not exceed $1,000,000.
  • Limitations for Negligence Arising out of Emergency Services and Care: Non-economic damages shall not exceed $150,000 per plaintiff. Also, the total non-economic damages recoverable by all plaintiffs from all practitioners shall not exceed $300,000.
  • Limitations for Negligence Arising out of Services and Care to a Medicaid Recipient: Non-economic damages may not exceed $300,000 per plaintiff. Also, each practitioner providing care to a Medicaid recipient is not liable for more than $200,000. However, these limitations do not apply if the plaintiff(s) can prove that the practitioner(s) acted in a wrongful manner.

Damage Caps Against Non-Practitioners

  • Limitations Generally: Non-economic damages shall not exceed $750,000 per plaintiff against all non-practitioners. Also, the total non-economic damages recoverable by all plaintiffs from all non-practitioners shall not exceed $1,500,000.
  • Death or Permanent Vegetative State: There is an exception to the general rule for cases of death or permanent vegetative states. If the negligence results in a permanent vegetative state or death, total non-economic damages recoverable from all non-practitioners shall not exceed $1,500,000.
  • Severe Non-Economic Harm and Catastrophic Injury: There is another exception to the general rule: if the non-economic harm to the plaintiff is particularly severe and the negligence caused a "catastrophic injury," the total non-economic damages recoverable from all practitioners shall not exceed $1,500,000.
  • Limitations for Negligence Arising out of Providing Emergency Services and Care: Non-economic damages shall not exceed $750,000 per plaintiff. Also, the total economic damages recoverable by all plaintiffs from all non-practitioner defendants shall not exceed $1,500,000.

Seeking Legal Help

If a negligent doctor has injured you or a loved one, you should speak to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Florida to learn more about your rights and remedies. A lawyer can assist you with filing a medical malpractice claim, explain the value of your case, and help you navigate through the complicated legal process.

Photo of page author Jason Cheung

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 11-07-2017 11:56 PM PST

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