Earlier this month, the Florida Supreme Court struck down a 2003 law that placed mandatory caps on noneconomic damages awarded to victims of medical malpractice injury lawsuits. Though justices were nearly evenly divided, they ultimately declared the caps unconstitutional. In this post, we’ll examine the legislation at hand and what this means for medical malpractice plaintiffs going forth.
The Legislation in Question
In 2003, Florida lawmakers, including then-Governor Jeb Bush, passed legislation capping the amount of noneconomic damages a medical malpractice victim could collect in a successful case. Their primary reason behind the bill was to lessen the financial burden of Florida’s physicians and healthcare professionals in an effort to keep them from leaving the state to practice in states with more affordable insurance premiums.
An example of a relevant case was that of Susan Kalitan. Kalitan suffered a perforated esophagus from anesthesia tubes placed in her throat during surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. She was awarded approximately $4 million in damages, but only received about $2 million because of the cap on noneconomic damages.
Equal Protection Rights
The Supreme Court ultimately determined that the 2003 law violated citizens’ equal protection rights under the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. The clause states that “no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction “the equal protection of the laws.” Essentially, the problematic 2003 law intended to rectify a “medical insurance crisis” denied the rights of injured Floridians and prioritized the rights of physicians and insurance companies. Generally, the most severely injured victims suffered the most from the compensation caps.
What This Means for Medical Malpractice Victims
With the overturning of this law, victims of medical malpractice injuries can expect to collect a higher amount in damages from successful personal injury claims. Physicians and insurance companies should not be negatively impacted, as it was hotly debated that the caps did little to remedy the so-called medical insurance crisis. Since premiums did not go down when the law was in place, there is little reason to believe they should become higher now.
Representing the Rights of Victims
Cressman Law Firm, P.A. is committed to collecting compensation for medical malpractice and other personal injury victims in Winter Garden and the surrounding areas. If you have suffered an injury at the hands of a healthcare professional, we are here to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our firm today at (407) 573-7406 to schedule a free consultation.