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Court rules that non-economic damages caps are unconstitutional

Being seriously injured or losing a loved one in a fatal accident can both be devastating experiences for anyone. In many cases, victims and their family members choose to take legal action against the party or parties responsible for the accident in order to seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages that have been suffered.

In Florida, however, this compensation has been capped at certain amounts, depending on several different factors. For example, if your loved one was killed due to a medical error, you may be awarded $5 million by a jury, but Florida laws dictated that your award could be dramatically reduced based on compensation caps. However, a recent court ruling has determined that these caps are unconstitutional.

According to a ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeals, capping compensation for survivors who have filed a personal injury or wrongful death claim is arbitrary and violates people's right to equal protection in the state of Florida.

The rationale behind the decision is based on the collection of full compensation in these cases. Depending on the number of plaintiffs involved in a case and the extent of the non-economic damages suffered, there are some people who would not be fully compensation for their loss while others would be.

Reports state that the caps on non-economic damages in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits were established during a time when medical malpractice claims and costs were overwhelming. Now, however, the Court has found that such restrictions are irrational and unconstitutional because there is no longer a crisis; therefore, there is no legitimate need to enforce such a measure.

In order to understand what this ruling could mean for you if you have filed a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit recently or if you are considering filing one in the near future, it can be crucial to discuss the specifics of your case with an attorney.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Court ruling a new blow to Florida's medical-malpractice damage caps," Jim Saunders, July 6, 2015

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