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Are Damage Caps Coming Back?


Historically, many states have placed a cap – an artificial limit – on the amount of intangible damages that an injured plaintiff can collect from a defendant in certain types of personal injury cases. Florida was formerly one of those states, having a cap on intangible (also called non-economic) damages in medical malpractice cases. It was declared to violate the Florida Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause in 2017, but in 2019, there have been bills proposed to try and limit non-economic damages again. If you have been injured, it is understandable if you have questions or concerns.

Economic vs Non-Economic Damages

When you have been injured in an accident, and decide to bring suit against the person who allegedly caused your injuries, there are two types of damages that you might recover if you prevail at trial (or settle your case). Economic damages, also called tangible damages, are damages that can be directly traced from the defendant’s alleged conduct. Medical bills are the most common type of economic damages, with others including lost wages and future lost earning capacity.

Non-economic damages are defined in Florida as “non-financial losses” that would not have happened if not for the injury that gave you cause to bring suit. Examples of these include pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, and mental anguish. Anything that is less tangible, but still results in a significant detriment to the injured plaintiff. Economic damages cannot be capped as a matter of public policy – in other words, trying to cap economic damages would shock the conscience. Non-economic damages, however, can be capped, because they are so intangible.

Harm Is Done To The Most Vulnerable

There are multiple examples nationwide to show that caps on non-economic damages do very little but harm injured plaintiffs, by placing an arbitrary cap on the amounts they can receive. In Florida itself, one can examine medical malpractice cases after the initial passage of a damage cap in 2003; the 2017 opinion explicitly stated that there was no proof that the cap lowered physicians’ premium rates, and that equal protection rights for injured plaintiffs were violated because they were often not granted the amounts that they demonstrably required to be made whole.

As the law stands right now, though, there is no damage cap for standard personal injury cases, meaning that whatever award a jury may grant, it cannot be limited arbitrarily by law. It can, however, be struck down or reduced on appeal from the defendant or their insurer. Every case is different, but it does mean that having an attorney on your side who is well versed in the complexities of these matters can be a great help in anticipating how best to present your claim and your needs.

Call A Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you have been injured, you should be able to focus on recovery, instead of having to worry about how your bills will get paid. A Tampa personal injury attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can offer compassionate and dedicated representation, and work hard to get you the funds you need to help get your life back on track. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.




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