Do Medical Malpractice Caps Help Floridians?

Several years ago, Florida passed legislation that caps noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits for doctors and hospitals. Because of that law, no matter the size of the jury verdict for pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress and other non-economic damages, the verdict may be reduced.

For instance, if a doctor negligently misdiagnoses an eye disease which leaves the plaintiff totally blind and a jury awards the plaintiff $2 million for pain and suffering, the award would be reduced.

Doctors argued that the cap was necessary to reduce the cost of medical malpractice insurance, which would reduce the cost of health care overall in Florida. Well, years after the law was passed, medical malpractice insurance in Florida has decreased but the cost of health care in Florida has increased.

A Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy study, reported, “Medicare spending in Florida rose in the years after the State capped malpractice awards.” Sadly, the poor victims in Florida who are left with a lifetime of hardship and struggles because of negligent doctors must fend for themselves while the doctors and insurance companies get richer from higher health care costs and lower premiums.

Insurance companies and doctors in Florida have benefitted in other ways too. Victims of medical malpractice in Florida often cannot find an attorney to represent them since attorneys now shun these cases because they can lose money representing the plaintiffs.

The attorney in medical malpractice cases takes the case on a contingency fee basis. This means the attorney is not paid until and unless he gets compensation for the plaintiff. In addition, the attorney has to finance the lawsuit until the victim is paid; and the cost can easily exceed $100,000 with litigation expenses, costs for experts, attorney’s fees and so forth are calculated. Consequently, many doctors in Florida get away with medical malpractice because the injured parties cannot find attorneys to take their cases.

Let us be smart and stand up against insurance companies and their crony politicians. We appreciate the great and honorable work that most doctors perform daily. Nevertheless, we cannot stand idly by and allow bad doctors can continue to destroy people’s lives without repercussions and insurance companies get richer and richer.

Call your senator and representative and make your voice heard. Tell them to speak up for the American taxpayer this time, not their corporate masters.

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