Why does a medical malpractice cap exist in the first place? Why not allow a victim of med mal to collect as much as possible on non-economic damages like pain and suffering? Gainesville medical malpractice attorney, Jeffrey Meldon, explains the history behind caps.
The short answer is money. The long answer involves attempting to lower medical malpractice insurance premiums for doctors.
Just like we buy insurance for our home and car, doctors buy insurance for their medical practice. This way, the insurance carrier handles and pays for any malpractice issues that may arise while the doctor is practicing medicine. If you think your auto premium is high, however, check out malpractice rates. In Florida, doctors pay between $100,000-$150,000 annually for coverage.
Prior to 2003, Florida law did not place a cap or limit on the amount that juries could award plaintiffs (victims) for non-economic damages. Therefore, juries routinely awarded successful plaintiffs millions of dollars in non-economic damages to compensate for pain and suffering and so forth.
Consequently, the insurance carriers who were forced to pay these substantial non-economic awards would in turn sharply raise the malpractice premiums for Florida doctors. The doctors claimed that these premiums were exorbitantly high and many threatened to move their medical practice to a state where malpractice premiums were lower. (Just as auto insurance rates vary depending in part on where you live, so too does malpractice insurance for a doctor.)
Therefore, the Florida legislature passed a law in 2003 that limits or “caps” the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded to a plaintiff to $500,000 per defendant. The cap law drastically reduces the potential amount that insurance carriers would have to pay to successful plaintiffs, which in turn eliminates the carriers’ need to increase the malpractice premiums for doctors.
In essence, the cap law was supposedly passed to ensure that carriers would provide affordable malpractice coverage to Florida doctors. Of course, the affordability comes at the plaintiff’s expense when attempting to collect non-economic damages.
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If you feel you have been injured by a doctor or someone working in a health care facility, you may be wondering if you have a case or not and if you need a lawyer.
If you have a legitimate case, with serious injuries, you will need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to navigate the powerful medical insurance world in order to be fairly compensated.
For over 40 years the experienced lawyers at Meldon Law have been helping victims of medical malpractice get compensated for the harm done to them.
If you or a loved one has experienced an injury due to medical malpractice, contact the Gainesville office of Meldon Law today. Consultations are free!
Since 1971, we have represented medical malpractice victims from: Gainesville, Ocala, Lake City, Inverness, Palatka, Inverness, Crystal River, Daytona Beach, Interlachen, Spring Hill, Dunnellon, Bunnell, Live Oak, Starke, Jasper, Cross City, Perry, Trenton, Leesburg, Lake Butler, Tavares, Chiefland, Bronson, Brooksville, The Villages and the counties of Alachua County, Marion County, Columbia County, Citrus County, Volusia County, Sumter County, Levy County, Lake County, Bradford County, Flagler County, Hamilton County, Dixie County, Gilchrist County, Union County, Hernando County, Suwannee County, Union County and Putnam County.
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