What Are Florida Damage Caps?
If you were injured in Florida by someone else’s negligence or wrongful act, you have the right to file a personal injury claim and recover compensation. As a personal injury victim, one question that is probably weighing heavily on you right now is how much compensation you will obtain for your injuries and damages. As you probably already know, certain factors, such as the severity of your injury and whether or not you are partially to blame for your accident, can affect the value of your claim. Apart from that, damage caps can impact the value of your claim. Damage caps have an effect on settlement awards handed down by courts, and they also influence the amounts obtained in out-of-court settlements. Below, we discuss Florida personal injury damage caps.
Damages in Florida Personal Injury Cases
In Florida personal injury cases, there are two main types of damages. They are compensatory damages (economic and non-economic damages) and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are damages awarded to compensate a plaintiff for their injuries and damages. These types of damages cover the direct effects of an accident. Compensatory damages include;
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses (Including future medical expenses)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
On the other hand, punitive damages are meant to punish the negligent party and deter them and others from acting in the same manner in the future. In Florida, punitive damages are not awarded in many personal injury cases.
What Is a Damage Cap?
A damage cap is a law that limits the amount of damages that may be awarded for a case. Damage caps exist for a variety of reasons. For example, damage caps prevent people from filing false claims or filing claims simply because they think they can recover a lot of money. Currently, every state has its damages cap. However, many states have eliminated the caps they used to have in place and ruled damage caps unconstitutional for plaintiffs.
The state of Florida imposes no cap on economic damages. Nevertheless, to recover the full extent of your economic damages, you need to document and prove any damages you might be claiming.
Currently, there is no cap on non-economic damages in Florida, meaning non-economic damages can be pursued in all types of personal injury cases without limit. However, it is worth mentioning that there was a time when there was a Florida non-economic damages cap that applied to medical malpractice cases. The cap for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases was set at $500,000. This cap remained in existence until the Florida Supreme Court struck it down in 2017 as unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court voted against the cap in a 4-3 ruling, saying it violated Florida’s Equal Protection Clause.
Florida law puts a limit on the amount of money that can be awarded as punishment for wrongdoing as follows;
- In a situation where it is determined that the defendant intended to harm the claimant, there is no cap on punitive damages.
- In a situation where it’s determined that a wrongful act was motivated by unreasonable financial gain and the unreasonably dangerous nature of the conduct together with the high likelihood of harm, was known by the defendant, punitive damages are limited to four times the amount of compensatory damages or $2 million (whichever is greater).
- In all other situations, punitive damages are limited to $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages (whichever is greater).
When Can You Claim Punitive Damages?
As mentioned earlier, punitive damages are not awarded in many personal injury cases. This is because, when it comes to personal injury cases, it is usually not about punishing the defendant but about compensating the claimant. According to Florida Statute 768.72, a defendant can only be held liable for punitive damages if it is determined that they were guilty of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
Intentional misconduct means the defendant knew about the conduct being wrong and the likelihood that damage or injury to the plaintiff would result from it, and despite knowing that, they pursued the course of conduct intentionally and ended up causing injuries or damage.
Gross negligence means the defendant’s conduct constituted a conscious disregard or indifference to the plaintiff’s safety, life, or rights.
Considering Florida’s current laws, as a plaintiff, you can reasonably expect to see no limit on the awards for economic and non-economic damages. When it comes to punitive damages awards, whether or not you see a limit on the award will depend on the specifics of your case.
Contact a Naples Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been hurt by someone else’s negligence or wrongful act and need help recovering the compensation you deserve, contact a Naples personal injury attorney at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro at 239-329-8577 today.