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Florida Supreme Court lifts cap on noneconomic awards

Imagine being unable to collect the full amount of compensation a jury decides you deserve for a medical mistake. You suffered, and with your testimony, you won your case. Now, the court says that you've been awarded millions, but you'll be capped at $500,000 regardless of your needs. It doesn't seem fair, and the Florida Supreme Court has determined that it isn't.

If you've been hurt as a result of medical malpractice, then this news is good for you. On June 8, the Florida Supreme Court determined that the caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases are violating the constitutional rights of patients. This is great news for patients who previously may have been limited in how much money they could collect after a serious injury.

The previous laws limited the total noneconomic awards to $500,000 or $1,000,000 only in extreme cases. These damages, which include pain and suffering, cannot be arbitrarily capped, according to the court's ruling. Noneconomic damages, as opposed to economic damages, aren't as easy to determine a fair amount of compensation for.

The problem in the past was that limiting the amount of compensation hurts the patients who suffered the most. While patients who would have been awarded $500,000 or less didn't see a change, those who should have been awarded millions suffered as a result of the law. For instance, a woman who suffered a surgical complication was awarded $4 million in noneconomic damages by the jury in her case, but she was only able to collect $1 million because of the previous cap. Today, that would not happen.

Source: Law Firm Newswire, "Florida Supreme Court Rules Medical Malpractice Damages Caps Unconstitutional," July 28, 2017

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