Damage Caps In Florida Personal Injury Cases
When you are injured due to someone’s negligence, the type of lawsuit you file is called personal injury. In most cases, you are able to file a lawsuit alleging that the person’s negligence was the cause of the injuries you suffered, and the court will either side with you, or with the defendant. However, even if you prevail at court, you cannot be awarded an unrestricted jackpot, at least not in Florida. Florida law has what are called damage caps, designed to keep jury awards from being so large that they become impossible to award. It is important to be aware that these may apply in your case.
Different Types of Damages
There are three types of damages that are in play in any personal injury case. One type is called punitive damages, and these are only granted in cases where it can be shown that the defendant not only acted negligently, but unethically or even illegally. These are extremely rare, and will not figure in the overwhelming majority of personal injury cases, if they do, they will be tacked onto a jury award in addition to any other damages that a plaintiff might recover. There is a cap on punitive damages; the maximum amount is either three times the amount of standard damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Economic damages, also called actual damages, includes the losses and injuries that are objectively quantifiable. For example, damages like lost wages, medical bills, and costs for continuing care all qualify as economic damages because they can be counted, and very often, if a jury believes that a defendant has been liable, the plaintiff’s requests for economic damages will usually be granted. There is no cap on economic damages in Florida – generally, caps on economic damages are seen as against public policy (that is, they would shock the conscience of the public).
Non-economic damages are the last type of damages that a person can recover in a personal injury lawsuit, and they are the intangible damages that are very real, but require more explaining and clarification to arrive at specific amounts. Some examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of future earning capacity. These damages may require expert witness testimony to prove, but it can certainly be done with the right legal help on your side.
It is worth noting that in medical malpractice cases, there was formerly a cap on non-economic damages, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled that cap unconstitutional in 2017, with the majority arguing that the caps served no purpose in terms of tort reform, only preventing those who sustained serious injuries from recovering the money they might need to keep their families afloat. The issue is still hotly debated, but as of this writing, the cap remains overturned, so no caps on non-economic damages currently exist in Florida.
Call A Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer
Being injured due to someone else’s negligence is a frustrating and often scary experience. If you are able to bring suit against the negligent person, you need to know your options and the state of the current law so that you and your attorney can make the right decisions in your case. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group offer compassionate and dedicated representation when you need it the most. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.