Florida does not include caps on compensatory damages for personal injury lawsuits.
The only exception to this rule involves a cap on punitive damages in certain situations.
What Are the Caps on Personal Injury Damages in Florida?
Florida is one of the few states that does not impose a cap on economic personal injury damages. As a result, an injured plaintiff can recover compensation for their out-of-pocket expenses such as medical bills and lost wages. However, depending on the factors of the case, there may be damage caps on some noneconomic damages.
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Personal Injury Caps on Different Damages in Florida
There are different types of damages involved in a Florida personal injury lawsuit. These damages have caps set upon them that determine how much money a plaintiff can recover in their case. They include economic damages caps, noneconomic damages caps, compensatory damages caps, total damage caps, punitive damages caps and medical malpractice damages caps.
Understanding Economic Damages Caps
In a Florida personal injury lawsuit, economic damages include anything that has a specific monetary cost such as medical bills, ongoing medical treatment, lost wages, lost earning capacity and property damage. There are no caps on economic damages stemming from a personal injury lawsuit regardless of the nature of the case. This means if a person has suffered injuries and any of these damages as a result of a car accident, slip-and-fall accident, product liability situation, workplace accident not involving workers’ compensation or even an intentional act of violence, they can recover compensation without worrying that there will be any financial caps imposed.
Understanding Noneconomic Damages Caps
Noneconomic damages in Florida personal injury lawsuits don’t carry any particular monetary amounts. These damages typically include pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life and damage to one’s reputation. In the case of a wrongful death lawsuit, loss of consortium is also considered a type of noneconomic damage.
In a Florida personal injury case, there are no caps on noneconomic damages.
Understanding Compensatory Damages Caps
Compensatory damages are those that directly correlate to the effects of an injury. In a Florida personal injury case, there are no caps on the amount of money a plaintiff can recover in a settlement pertaining to those damages. These are all things that can be proven by presenting bills and receipts. Generally, they fall under the same category as economic damages and are issues that would not have arisen had the accident or incident occurred, causing the victim’s injuries. Compensatory damages can include anything such as medical bills, hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, ambulance costs, medical equipment, prescription drugs and other medication, domestic services, physical therapy, home health aides, ongoing medical treatment, transportation costs, increased living expenses, repairs to or replacement for damaged property, lost wages and lost earning capacity.
Understanding Caps on Total Damages
At one time, Florida imposed caps on damages stemming from medical malpractice personal injury lawsuits. During that time, the cap came to $500,000. However, in recent years, the law determined that this was unfair, resulting in overturning the limit. As a result, in a personal injury case, even one involving medical malpractice, there are no caps on total damages a plaintiff can recover pertaining to their economic and noneconomic damages.
Understanding Caps Placed on Punitive Damages
While there are no caps on other damages in personal injury lawsuits in Florida, there are some exceptions on punitive damages. Punitive damages are ordered not as a way to make the plaintiff whole but instead, to punish a defendant for egregious or outrageous behavior leading up to the accident or incident that resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, if it’s determined that a car accident rendering a victim severely injured was caused by road rage, a jury can decide to include punitive damages when deciding on the outcome of the case and awarding a settlement.
Punitive damages have a cap of three times the amount of the victim’s compensatory damages: the total sum of their medical bills, ongoing medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity and property damage or $500,000, whichever is higher. In other words, if the plaintiff’s lawsuit included a total of $100,000 in compensatory damages, they would be entitled to $300,000 in punitive damages if the defendant’s actions leading to the accident and injuries were intentionally malicious. However, if compensatory damages exceeded $1 million, the plaintiff would only recover $500,000 in punitive damages.
Understanding Medical Malpractice Damages Caps
As previously mentioned, Florida once imposed a cap of $500,000 on damages in personal injury cases stemming from medical malpractice. Damages in such a case may include medical expenses, additional medical treatment, medical equipment, lost wages, lost earning capacity and pain and suffering.
What Are the General Rules About Damage Caps in Florida Personal Injury Lawsuits?
The general rule regarding damage caps in personal injury lawsuits in Florida is that there are no limits on the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover in a settlement if their case is successful. Economic or compensatory damages and noneconomic damages do not have any specific caps, which means that an injured plaintiff can receive any amount in their settlement. This holds true for any type of personal injury situation. However, punitive damages always carry a cap of three times the amount of total out-of-pocket damages the plaintiff suffers or $500,000, whichever amount is higher.
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What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits in Florida?
The statute of limitations is the amount of time a person has to file a personal injury lawsuit or any other type of lawsuit with the court so that they can have their case heard and recover compensation if they are able to successfully prove the case. In Florida, the general statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is four years from the date of the accident or incident or from the date the victim’s injuries became apparent. However, there are some exceptions for based on the specific type of personal injury situation involved in the case.
Understanding a Statute in Florida
In Florida or any other state, a statute is a law that started out written by a legislative body and ultimately passed in the state’s House and Senate or other legislative body. Once a statute is passed, it officially becomes the law on a set date.
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Are There Different Statutes of Limitation in Different Types of Florida Personal Injury Cases?
There are many different types of personal injury cases an injured party can file in Florida. Although four years is the blanket statute of limitations, there are different lengths of time for the statute of limitations depending on the specific type of personal injury situation. It’s important to understand the one that’s relevant to your case to ensure that you file your lawsuit with the court in a timely manner. Failing to do so means that your case will not be heard and you will not be able to recover the compensation you deserve for your damages.
The following type of personal injury situations are among those most often filed: car accident, wrongful death, truck accident, construction accident, medical malpractice and catastrophic injury.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits in Florida?
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident that was due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act, such as road rage, you have four years to file your personal injury lawsuit. Car accidents rank as some of the most common personal injury actions in Florida.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Florida?
Wrongful death is a subcategory of personal injury that allows the family to recover compensation for the damages suffered after a loved one dies due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act of violence. In Florida, the decedent’s personal representative must file a lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members. The statute of limitations for wrongful death in the state is two years from the date of the person’s death.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Truck Accident Lawsuits in Florida?
In addition to car accidents, many types of motor vehicle accidents occur in Florida every single day. Truck accidents are one of the deadliest, but even when victims survive, they may be left with catastrophic, disabling and permanent injuries that require medical care for the rest of their lives. In Florida, the statute of limitation for filing a personal injury lawsuit stemming from truck accidents is four years from the date of the accident or when the victim’s injuries became obvious.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Construction Accidents in Florida?
Construction accidents are very dangerous and can result in severe injuries or even death, in some cases. In Florida, if a person suffers injuries in a construction accident, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is four years from the date of said accident or when their injury symptoms manifest. In some cases, a construction accident can occur while a construction worker is on the job; in that situation, the person would have to file a workers’ compensation claim with their employer within two years of the accident.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Florida?
When a person sees a doctor or other medical professional for medical concerns, they expect to receive a high level of quality care. Unfortunately, medical malpractice can occur if the doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional fails to provide the expected level of care as any other such professional would do. This can lead to the patient suffering harm, giving them cause to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The statute of limitations for filing this category of personal injury case is two years from the date of the malpractice or when the injury became known.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Catastrophic Injuries in Florida?
There are many situations that can lead to a person suffering catastrophic injuries in Florida. Among them are severe car accidents, truck accidents, certain types of workplace accidents and more. In general, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases stemming from catastrophic injuries is four years from the date of the accident or incident leading to those injuries.
What Are the Exceptions to Florida’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
Exceptions to Florida’s personal injury statute of limitations apply to medical malpractice, wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits filed against a government agency or entity. Instead of the typical four years’ time to file a lawsuit, these categories of personal injury have shorter statutes of limitations. These situations require the injured party to file their lawsuit within two or three years, respectively. In the case of wrongful death, the victim’s personal representative must file on behalf of the surviving family members.
What Is the Discovery Rule?
In personal injury cases, the discovery rule relates to the time when the plaintiff realized that they suffered their injury. This means that the statute of limitations may be extended if the person’s injuries were not immediately obvious. For example, a person is involved in a car crash and feels fine for about a week after the accident, only to begin experiencing symptoms of injury later. In that situation, they would have four years from the date when they realized they were injured instead of four years from the date of the car accident.
What Is Tolling?
Tolling refers to the statute of limitations being extended in a personal injury case involving a victim who is minor. In other words, if a person suffers injuries due to the negligence of someone else when they are younger than 18, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit wouldn’t apply until they reached 18. For example, if a 16-year-old experienced a slip-and-fall accident at a grocery store and suffered injuries, they could file a personal injury lawsuit once they turn 18 years old. However, because the statute of limitations wouldn’t begin until their 18th birthday, they would have up to four years or when they are 22, to file the lawsuit.
A victim who is disabled is another reason why tolling might come into play with the statute of limitations for personal injury.
What Does Sovereign Immunity Mean in Florida Statutes?
Sovereign immunity means that a person cannot file a personal injury claim against a government agency or entity without consent from the government. The reason for this is that a lawsuit might prevent the government from performing its regular functions. In Florida, sovereign immunity still exists but is limited; injured victims are still able to hold government employees liable for injuries or death.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is There a Cap on Damages in Florida?
Florida does not place a cap on damages in personal injury cases. There are no caps on economic or noneconomic damages in any type of personal injury case. However, there are caps on punitive damages.
What Are the Caps for Punitive Damages in Florida?
Florida imposes caps on punitive damages in personal injury lawsuits. These damages are limited to three times the total compensation awarded to the plaintiff or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Is There a Limit on How Much a Plaintiff Can Recover for Economic Damages in Florida?
There is no limit to how much a plaintiff can recover in economic damages in a Florida personal injury lawsuit.
What Is the Threshold in Florida?
The threshold in Florida personal injury lawsuits means that the victim must have suffered one of four types of injuries: permanent injuries, scarring or disfigurement, significant loss of a major bodily function or permanent loss of a major bodily function or death.