The answer is yes and no. There is a cap to a certain type of damages awarded in any Melbourne, FL area medical malpractice lawsuit, whether a wrongful death occurred or not. Most states have a medical malpractice cap of some sort to protect the defendant against a detrimental loss that would take away their ability to earn future income and violate the concept of fair compensation, but also to protect consumers from high health insurance premiums that would result in larger payouts from insurance companies.
What aspect of Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death has a Damages Cap?
Like most states, Florida applies a cap in the area of non-economic damages. This would include damages that are not quantifiable, such as emotional pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Quantifiable damages would include medical care, funeral expenses, and other measurable monetary losses such as lost wages, and lost benefits from the deceased spouse or family member. These quantifiable damages are not subject to the Florida damages cap; only damages that are subjective and not measurable as an economic entity.
What is the Cap Set at?
The cap is set at $500,000 or $750,000 depending upon who the defendant is. The $500,000 cap is set for when the defendant is a medical practitioner, a practicing doctor or surgeon. The $750,000 cap is set for when the defendant is a non-medical practitioner, such as a physician assistant or a certified nurse midwife.
Although rare, at any time the court can set aside the damages cap and even raise it depending on the specifics of each case, but the cap would still only be applicable to the non-quantifiable damages as stated above.
Expected Damages from a Wrongful Death in a Medical Malpractice Case?
There are generally three categories from which damages can be awarded: general, special, and less common punitive.
- General damages are those not quantifiable and subject to a cap: loss of companionship, emotional pain and suffering, loss of future earning capacity, and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Special damages are those that do cover quantifiable expenses such as medical bills, lost wages from missed work prior to death, funeral and burial expenses.
- Punitive damages are less common and serve as an example to possible future parties. They are only awarded in cases where the practitioner knew what they were doing would cause harm or that their behavior was harmful and taking on unnecessary risk. It generally has a cap of its own outside of the medical malpractice cap.