Federal Bill to Cap Damages in Medical Malpractice Will Drastically Alter Florida Damage Cap if Passes

A bill to cap the amount of damages that can be awarded to a victim of medical negligence in a lawsuit is advancing in the U.S. House of Representatives. Called the Protecting Access to Care Act and introduced by Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa, the proposed bill would cap the noneconomic damages that can be paid by doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes in medical malpractice lawsuits. Although the bill would not limit recovery of economic damages like lost wages or past and future medical expenses, it would cap payments for a victim’s pain and suffering, also known as noneconomic damages, at $250,000. The bill would affect malpractice lawsuits where coverage for care was provided through a federal program, subsidy or tax benefit. This includes patients insured under the Affordable Care Act, veterans, service members and civil servants covered by federal health plans, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Prior to the 18-17 vote advancing the bill out of the House Judiciary Committee, several Democratic amendments to the bill were rejected. Those amendments included keeping in place various protections for nursing home residents and exempting patients in whom a surgeon may accidentally leave a surgical instrument or other foreign body. The next stop for the bill is the full House. At this time, there is no timetable on when the measure will be considered by the full House of Representatives.

Florida Law Concerning Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

Currently, Florida law provides for limitations on the noneconomic damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases against health care practitioners or facilities. Thankfully for medical malpractice victims and their families, the Florida Supreme Court has rejected those caps as unconstitutional in cases involving a patient’s death, while several Florida appeals courts have rejected those caps as unconstitutional in cases where a patient suffers injuries but does not die. (The Florida Supreme Court is currently considering this issue but is expected to rule that the caps are unconstitutional). The impact of these decisions is that the amount of damages that can be awarded to a victim of medical malpractice in Florida for pain and suffering are unlimited. In addition, there are no caps on the amount of economic damages that can be awarded in a medical malpractice case in Florida for losses and damages such as lost income, medical expenses, and nursing care which a victim of medical malpractice may need. Therefore, the proposed Federal legislation, if passed, would dramatically alter the law in Florida, resulting in substantial harm for Florida patients who have been injured as a result of a healthcare practitioner’s medical malpractice.

Contact Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley if You Have Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice in Florida

At Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley, our attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal experience. If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of your health care practitioner or at a hospital or other healthcare facility, you should contact the experienced personal injury attorneys of Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley today at contact@schwedlawfirm.com or (877) 694-6079.

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