Florida Damage Caps

florida damage caps

When you’ve been injured because of another person’s carelessness, you can file a personal injury claim to sue that person and receive payment for the injuries, pain, and suffering caused by the accident. The compensation that you receive is grouped into two primary categories: economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic damages are meant to pay back the injured plaintiff for the cost of medical treatments, lost wages, and any expenses directly related to the accident. Non-economic damages refer to other types of compensation that can be more challenging to determine. These damages pay injured plaintiffs for pain and suffering that their injuries inflicted, along with the enjoyment that these injuries rob from life.

Damage caps are laws that limit the maximum amount that can be paid out to an injured victim. These limits vary, depending on the state. Federally, there’s a damage cap of $250,000 for non-economic damages related to medical malpractice. Outside of that, the limits are strictly set by the state. The following details why damage caps are necessary, and what those limits are in Florida.

Why are Damage Caps Important?

When a distressed plaintiff takes the stand and holds back tears while recalling the misery that he or she has been through because of their injuries, caused by the negligence of another, a jury might be swayed to award them millions of dollars. While everyone would like to help a person who has been wronged, if millions of dollars were awarded to each injury case, the system would go bankrupt. Bountiful awards need to be resolved elsewhere.

Consider medical malpractice lawsuits, for example. When a doctor is sued for medical malpractice, his insurance coverage pays for awarded compensation toward that claim. Afterward, the doctor’s insurance premiums rise. Consequently, the doctor becomes defensive in his or her profession by ordering tests that might not be necessary – all to safeguard against another lawsuit in the future. Those in favor of damage caps will point out that the doctor’s defensive medical practices later balanced the plaintiff’s awarded damages in the lawsuit.

Fundamentally, insurance companies and proponents of damage caps claim that these limits exist to prevent juries from awarding outrageous damages to plaintiffs who tug at the heartstrings. Unfortunately, damage caps haven’t helped lower insurance costs, nor do they help injured plaintiffs. Those against damage caps argue that, in medical malpractice cases, they protect doctors more than they do patients.

What Are Personal Injury Damage Caps in Florida?

In Florida, there’s no damage cap statute pertaining to standard personal injury claims. In previous years, there was a damage cap on non-economic damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases. That changed, however, when the Florida Supreme Court voted 4-3 that non-economic damage caps for medical malpractice was unconstitutional and violated Florida’s Equal Protection Clause.

There are no damage caps on economic and non-economic damages, but there are limits on Florida’s punitive damages. Punitive damages are seldom awarded. This form of compensation is used to punish the defendant for extremely harmful or unethical conduct. When they’re awarded, the limit in Florida is three times the amount of compensatory (economic plus non-economic) damages, or $500,000 – whichever amount is higher.

When are Punitive Damages Awarded in Florida?

Punitive damages, or damages awarded to punish someone, are only awarded in specific situations. Those situations include:

  • The defendant had a specific intent to harm the plaintiff
  • The defendant did not intend to cause harm but knew that injury was likely AND the defendant acted in an unreasonably dangerous manner motivated entirely by economic gain.

In cases when the defendant had the intent to cause harm to the plaintiff, there is no cap on how much can be awarded in Florida. In the second scenario, when the defendant did not intend to cause harm but knew it was likely and wanted to benefit out of the situation financially, the limit is four times the amount of compensatory damages, or $2 million – whichever amount is higher. In any other case, when punitive damages are awarded, the limit is three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, as previously mentioned.

Schedule a Free Consultation with The Umansky Law Firm

If you’ve been injured by the carelessness of another and would like to discuss your case and the damages that you might be owed, the Orlando attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm can help. With more than 100 years of combined experience, we have the knowledge and skill to navigate personal injury law that enables us to advocate aggressively for the rights of those who have been mistreated and hurt. Our personal injury team is passionate about helping the injured get on the road to recovery and get the compensation that they deserve. 

To schedule your free consultation, complete an online contact form, or call at (407) 228-3838.