It is unfortunate, but we occasionally see instances where medical negligence causes a person to suffer from severe injuries which result in death. In these cases, surviving members of the victim’s family may bring a suit for wrongful death against the healthcare professional. While the financial costs of losing a loved one are significant, it is also an emotionally devastating event. The survivors of a patient deserve compensation for their mental pain and suffering, but have previously faced difficulties getting the full amount they deserve.
In Florida medical malpractice cases, a claimant is limited in recovering noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages are those that do not compensate an injured person for their financial losses, but instead are compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and physical impairment. An injured person generally is only allowed to recover a maximum of $500,000 in noneconomic damages. However, the law allows an award of up to $1 million if a medical professional’s negligence resulted in a permanent vegetative state or death of the patient. It is significant to understand that the law caps these damages at the listed amounts, regardless of the number of claimants involved.
Until now, these Florida laws have limited the amount of recovery in wrongful death cases. However, the Florida Supreme Court recently addressed the constitutionality of Florida’s damage caps and held that the limit on wrongful death noneconomic damage violates the Equal Protection Clause of Florida’s Constitution.