Medical malpractice caps are arbitrary and unfair. These caps restrict how much an innocent victim can receive in a case where a physician’s preventable mistake results in the death of a patient. Fortunately, the Florida Supreme Court recognized how unfair and flagrantly unconstitutional these caps are and struck them down.
The caps, part of then-governor Jeb Bush’s effort to lower the cost of medical malpractice insurance rates, were a failed attempt to curb what was considered a “skyrocketing” insurance crisis.
The Court, in a 5-2 decision, ruled that such caps violate the equal protection guarantee in the state’s constitution. The Court stated that “the cap on non-economic damages serves no purpose other than to arbitrarily punish the most grievously injured or their surviving family members.”
Exactly. If only state legislators and judges in Virginia would recognize the same flaws in medical malpractice caps, maybe the cap in Virginia on non-economic damages could be struck down.
As of the date of this posting, 35 states have caps on medical malpractice damages. Florida joins six other states declaring medical malpractice awards unconstitutional.
Debra Henley, the executive director of the Florida Justice Association, said that caps on damages are fundamentally unfair to victims of medical negligence.
Doctors, however, are not convinced. Many are worried that the potential rise in health care costs due to the removal of the cap could drive doctors out of the state.
“Thanks to the Florida Supreme Court, we can be sure that patients will face an intensified access to care crisis. The likely outcome will be that trial lawyers will refocus their sights on physicians, meritless lawsuits will clog our courts and physicians will move to states with a more favorable litigation climate,” said Dr. Alan Harmon, the president of the Florida Medical Association.
The ruling has no effect on caps in cases where the patient doesn’t die, but many believe that such a ruling isn’t out of the question.
I think the Florida Supreme Court’s decision is spot on. Caps on damages merely serve to punish innocent victims and benefit insurance companies. My firm posted a video discussing how unfair and misguided medical malpractice caps really are. Check it out here:
So what do you think? Was the cap really unconstitutional, or will it’s removal only seek to drive up costs, and drive out doctors?