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Medical malpractice caps ruled unconstitutional in wrongful death cases by Florida Supreme Court

6:15 PM, Mar 13, 2014   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- Caps put in place on how much money someone can receive in cases where a doctor's mistake led to a person's death were declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court. on Thursday.

The law, passed in 2003, had capped an individual doctor's liability for noneconomic damages in such cases to $500,000.

"People will probably read into this too much," explained Clearwater attorney Kevin Hayslett.

"They'll think 'Well the caps are gone in medical malpractice claims', they're not, they're only gone when it relates to wrongful death claims."

Hayslett says since lawyers typically spend six figures in medical malpractice cases involving a death, the caps likely kept some potential cases from ever making it to court.

'If you're going to put a quarter of a million dollars to get experts, court reporters, trial to get $500,000 it's not economically viable.

But with Thursday's ruling Hayslett believes that will change.  

"So for the past 10 years you've got real live victims who perhaps were victims of medical malpractice who could not get their claims to court because of the cap, it's a victory for them."

The idea behind the law was to curb malpractice insurance rates but in Thursday's ruling the state Supreme Court questioned whether there ever was a crisis that needed to be address and added if there was one, it no longer exists.

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