The Florida Supreme Court recently handed down a ruling that will have profound implications for medical malpractice victims throughout the Sunshine State.
In 2003, the state legislature acted to cap all Florida medical malpractice lawsuit awards. There was a question, though, about whether that cap could apply to injuries that arose prior to 2003.
The Florida Supreme Court has finally answered that question: no. The caps are not retroactive, so med-mal victims who were injured before the 2003 statute went into effect can still be awarded damages in excess of the cap.
Miami Medical Malpractice Victim Recovers $1.5 Million at FL Supreme Court
At the heart of the case was Kimberly Ann Miles, a skin cancer patient who suffered permanent leg injuries after an unnecessary surgery in January 2003 — seven months before then-Governor Jeb Bush signed the statute into law.
Miles filed suit for medical malpractice, and in 2006, a jury awarded her $1.5 million in non-economic damages.
Dr. Daniel Weingrad appealed, though, citing the 2003 statute’s $500,000 cap. The appeals court sided with the doctor and reduced Miles’s recovery to the statutory limit. Accordingly, she turned to the state Supreme Court for relief.
Now, Miles has the $1.5 million she deserves.
What Does New FL Ruling Mean for Medical Malpractice Victims?
At first glance, the Supreme Court’s ruling may seem rather limited in effect. After all, Florida has an extremely narrow statute of limitations for filing medical malpractice claims — two years in most cases, though there are a number of exceptions.
The time window for most (though not all) medical malpractice injuries predating the 2003 statute, then, has already expired. So why all the fuss?
It’s important to note that the court’s ruling is only the latest in a series of indications that the 2003 caps are falling out of favor.
Most notably, just last year, the state Supreme Court disqualified the caps altogether in cases where the victim died. Additionally, the Bush-era statute has faced mounting criticism in the state capitol, where compelling stories of injustice have caught the attention of lawmakers.
Advocates for patients’ rights all across the country are hopeful that the Florida Supreme Court’s latest ruling will serve as persuasive precedent in other high courts throughout the country, championing the idea that med-mal caps ought to be abolished and certainly not be retroactive. If so, it would be a major development in an ongoing trend against caps on victims’ recoveries.
Questions? Talk to Our Miami Medical Malpractice Attorneys.
If you’ve suffered illness or injury as a result of medical malpractice — or if your loved one has died and you believe a health professional’s negligence might be to blame — you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation. Please do not assume that you do not have a case or that any specific time or recovery limits apply to your particular claim until you’ve talked to us.