The removal of Florida’s cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death medical malpractice cases has brought about plenty of discussion on the effect this will have on the medical, legal, and insurance communities. These remain to be seen, but there a recent Washington Examiner piece offers a few predictions.
Wrongful Death Suits
Wrongful death medical malpractice cases may increase as a result of the lift on the cap, as the potential for non-economic damages increases substantially.
There is much debate over whether insurance companies will bear the brunt of the cap removal as a result of increased legal expenses. However, recent evidence suggests that even in states where there are no caps, insurance companies continue to turn profits. From the Examiner:
However, [financial analyst Charles] Huber points out that even though the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the cap on non-economic damages in 2010, insurance in that state still seem to be profitable. He adds that it’s the same for companies in the 15-plus states that operate without any caps or limits.
Predictions vary on how many doctors may leave the state as a result of the cap removal. It’s important to remember that the cap has only been removed for wrongful death cases. Currently, other medical malpractice cases are still subject to a non-economic damages cap of $500,000 or $1 million depending on the situation. Again from the Examiner:
Huber contends that those in favor of caps on non-economic damages often use the argument that doctors can’t afford to practice in their state without the caps in place. But again using Illinois as an example, he says there wasn’t a mass migration of doctors out of that state after its high court struck down the cap.