Limit on compensation for injured Florida patients ruled unconstitutional

Nearly every patient in the U.S. will experience a medical error at some point in their lives. That is why adequate

Even as recent studies show medical errors are surprisingly common, Florida courts have declared Florida's law banning juries from deciding proper compensation for injured patients unconstitutional.

It is a myth that medical malpractice claims are bankrupting the country's health care system. The truth is quite the opposite; approximately 80 percent of medical malpractice goes unreported, according to the U.S. Office of the Inspector General. And when they do report medical errors, many patients find that laws and courts make it difficult to obtain adequate compensation, even for horrifying and preventable mistakes that significantly affect a patient's health.

Nearly every patient will suffer from a medical error

A recent study by the U.S. Institute of Medicine found that, on average, every patient in the U.S. will experience a medical error at some point in their lives. While not every error will cause a significant adverse health impact for the patient, the mere fact that medical error is so prominent is a cause for concern. And many errors are significant.

According to researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, as many as 50 percent of surgeries at the hospital - a leading hospital in the U.S. - included an error, many involving incorrect drug labeling, dosages and failure to medicate.

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to data from the IOM.

Now there is no limit on pain and suffering damages in Florida

With the prevalence and harm caused by medical errors, it can be extremely damaging to patients to have restrictions put on their ability to recover damages after experiencing significant medical error. Yet such restrictions had been in place for some time in the state.

In 2003, Florida enacted a law that limited the amount of non-economic damages a patient could recover in a medical malpractice suit. The limit depended on the number of injured patients and the type of defendant.

Non-economic damages are money compensated to injured patients that do not include wage loss, future medical bills, and certain other expenses. Instead, non-economic damages provide monetary help for injured patients for the pain and suffering that arise because of medical malpractice.

Fortunately, Florida's restriction on the ability of judges and juries to decide these matters on a case-by-case basis has recently been ruled unconstitutional.

Florida Court rules limit unconstitutional

Last year, the Florida Supreme Court rejected limits on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, holding that the law was unfair to injured patients. More recently, a South Florida appeals court found that a circuit court decision that reduced an injured patient's award from $4.7 million to $2 million applied an unconstitutional law. The injured patient was therefore awarded the full amount given by the jury.

Did you suffer because of a medical mistake? Contact our firm.

Kurzban Kurzban Weinger Tetzeli and Pratt, P.A., is an experienced medical malpractice firm in Miami. The firm provides representation for injured patients in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and nationwide.