Florida law divides damages into two categories – economic and non-economic.
Economic damages mean financial losses that would not have occurred but for the injury. They are objective and include both past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity.
Non-economic damages mean non-financial losses that would not have occurred but for the injury. Non-economic damages are subjective and generally include pain and suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, and loss of capacity for enjoyment of life.
Economic damages are generally easy to calculate because you can provide receipts and invoices to see the actual cost incurred by the victim. It may get more complicated, though, because economic damages may include future medical expenses.
The burden of proving future medical expenses is on the injured party and may be difficult to prove because you are attempting to place a value on something that has not yet happened. To prove future medical expenses to the court, you'll need an expert witness who can speak to the future medical requirements of your injury and the cost of those requirements. Not only can the court and expert witnesses take into consideration the types of treatments you will need when determining the amount of future medical costs, but they can also consider other factors, including:
- Age and life expectancy
- Overall health at the time of the injury
- Extent and severity of the injury
- Cost of treatment performed
- Stage of recovery completed
Non-economic damages are extremely challenging to establish because it is a subjective standard; everyone’s reaction to an injury and the impact of that injury on their life will be different. Therefore, when demanding pain and suffering damages, an attorney must present a specific number considering several factors, some of which overlap with the factors considered for future medical expenses. Factors such as:
- The age of the victim
- The general health of the victim, including any pre-existing condition
- The degree and severity of each injury
- The long-term and ongoing consequences of the injury
Additionally, even if the negligence did not result in a permanent vegetative state or death, the plaintiff may be awarded up to $1 million in the following situations:
- Where the court determines that an injustice would occur unless increased non-economic damage were awarded
- The trier of fact (the judge or jury depending on the trial) determines that the defendant’s negligence caused a catastrophic injury
- In the case where the defendant is not a practitioner, the caps raise to $750,000 and $1.5 million, respectively
Cap On Medical Malpractice Damages
Florida law provides caps on damages awarded in medical malpractice cases. As to non-economic damages caused by a practitioner, a plaintiff may not be awarded over $500,000 in non-economic damages. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule, including when the negligence resulted in a permanent vegetative state or death.
If the case includes a permanent vegetative state or death, the damages may not exceed $1 million.
Florida law considers a catastrophic injury to involve a permanent or total disability. Permanent and total disability is presumed if the victim has certain injuries, including but not limited to:
- Closed-head injuries
- Second- or third-degree burns
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis
When to Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you have sustained an injury because of a healthcare provider's negligence, it is essential that you contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help you navigate through the justice system.
The attorneys at The Watson Firm, PLLC will not only evaluate your case for free, but we won't charge you any upfront fees. You only pay once we’ve won the case.
Contact us today by calling (850) 607-2929 or submitting an online request form for a free consultation.