TORT AND TORT REFORM: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU IN FLORIDA

What is a tort reform? The term “tort reform” refers to the legislative measures designed to limit potential money damages the injured individuals (plaintiffs) may receive in legal actions and to limit the circumstances under which the injured people may sue.

What is a tort? Tort is damage, injury, or a wrongful act, other than a breach of contract, done purposefully, negligently, or under the strict liability for which an individual harmed by it can bring a civil suit against the wrongdoer. By bringing a tort action, a harmed person or plaintiff generally seeks money from a person or a company who caused the harm. Some of the examples of tort litigation are personal injury (car accident, slip and fall), trespass, medical malpractice, and product liability (defect in either manufacturing or design of a product).

Does the tort reform help or harm the injured? The proponents of the tort reform argue that the high costs of litigation, high number of frivolous lawsuits, which are lawsuits without any legal basis, and excessive jury awards demand caps on the amount of damages an injured person may receive. They argue that the caps will encourage fair compensation.

Those who oppose the tort reform assert that the tort reform is actually a movement by big corporations, such as tobacco and insurance companies, (defendenants) to reduce their liability in law suits. The opponents state that potential lawsuits actually encourage the companies to make safer products, make doctors more careful when performing medical procedures, discourage the sale of dangerous products, and deter people from engaging in unsafe behavior, such as driving wrecklessly, thus preventing injuries.

Regardless of which side you take, educate yourself!

Tort Reform in Florida

Due to a movement advocating tort reform, legislative measures aimed at limiting damages and the ability of the injured persons to bring tort actions, Florida has caps on the punitive and noneconomic damages a harmed individual may receive for his or her injuries.

Economic damages, such as damages for medical bills and loss of wages, are not capped.

Punitive damages, awarded to an injured person in addition to any other damages and intended to punish a wrongdoer, are not capped in Florida if a wrongdoer deliberately intended to harm a person. Otherwise, punitive damages are limited to the greater of $500,000 or three times compensatory damages. If the jury finds that the wrongdoer’s conduct was motivated solely by the financial gain, the injured person may receive the punitive damages up to the greater of four times compensatory damages or $2 million.

Noneconomic damages, such as damages for pain and suffering, are capped at $500,000 per injured person ($1 million in aggregate damages for all injured persons/claimants in a case) in medical liability cases involving physicians and at $750,000 per injured person for nonphysicians ($1.5 million in aggregate damages for all claimants). In emergency room cases, the cap is $150,000 ($300,000 in aggregate damages recoverable by all claimants). In cases involving vegetative state or death, the noneconomic damages are capped at $1 million.

I am local accident attorney Jeffrey Meldon and I strongly believe that public education is the first step in the prevention of and/or recovery from a serious accident. My office and I take pride in our work, and the results we get for our clients.

Meldon Law is a regional law firm that is located in Gainesville, Florida. We are personal injury lawyers, litigators and trial lawyers that have been working to get accident victims the justice they deserve for over 40 years throughout North Florida and all over Florida. Accidents involving a car crash, truck wreck, motorcycle, ATVs, bicycle, pedestrian accidents, and dog bites, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and criminal defense are all included in our practice.

For more information on how we can help you, or with any other question you may have, feel free to contact our office at 800-373-8000.

Jeffrey Meldon
Founder of the Meldon Law Firm