If you are going through a personal injury lawsuit and expect to recover compensation, then you need to know whether or not there are any limitations on how much money you can receive. States around the country all have their own laws regarding compensation caps, including Florida. Here, we want to examine Florida’s rules regarding compensatory damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Why Have Damage Caps?
Why have limitations on damages in the first place? In many places around the country, there are absolutely no damage caps. But for jurisdictions that have implemented limitations, they do so in order to prevent frivolous lawsuits from being filed and to prevent individuals from seeking an unreasonable amount of damages for their claim. However, many places around the country have deemed caps on damages as unconstitutional, per state constitutions.
Compensatory Damage Caps
Compensatory damages relate to the direct effects of an incident. This includes compensation made available for medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses that would have otherwise not occurred, property damage expenses, and more. These damages are calculated directly by using bills and receipts that come in.
The state of Florida does not impose any damage caps on compensatory damages for personal injury lawsuits.
Non-Economic Damage Caps
Non-economic damages are more immeasurable, meaning they are harder to calculate. These are the types of losses not directly associated with a calculable loss but include a plaintiff’s pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, loss of companionship for a spouse or family member, etc. There are no bills and receipts that will be able to adequately show these types of losses. Thus, attorneys and plaintiffs will use other methods to calculate these losses.
In 2003, Florida implemented rules that placed caps on non-economic damages specifically for medical malpractice lawsuits. However, state courts overturned the limitations in 2017, so non-economic damages in any type of injury claim can be pursued without limitation.
Punitive Damage Caps
Punitive damages are reserved for particular situations where the actions of the defendant were found to be intentional or grossly negligent. Often, you will hear punitive damages awarded in cases where the actions of the defendant were unconscionable. Punitive damages act as punishment to the defendant as well as a deterrent to any other individuals or entities. These damages send a signal that the types of behavior displayed in the case are not acceptable. Punitive damages are not awarded in the majority of personal injury cases.
The state of Florida does impose caps on the total amount of money that can be awarded for punitive damages. Currently, the law limits punitive damages to three times the total amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000. If the total punitive damages awarded exceeds $500,000, the jury will be instructed to award the higher amount of compensation. This is not a strict cap, but the soft limitation does attempt to prevent juries from setting incredibly high punitive damages.
Work With an Attorney
If you have any questions about how much compensation you will receive for your personal injury or medical malpractice case, we encourage you to speak to your Florida injury attorney. Your lawyer will be able to help give you an estimate about how much compensation you can expect to receive.