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Understanding Florida’s Personal Injury Damage Caps

If you have been injured on the job, in an accident, or on someone’s property, you need to understand what kind of damages you can be awarded. In Florida, like other states, there are damage caps. That means the amount of money you can receive from a claim has a mandatory state limit. Understanding these caps can help keep your settlement expectations realistic and help you make informed choices about how to spend your settlement. Here is a guide to understanding Florida’s personal injury damage caps.

Compensatory Damages Caps

Compensatory damages really boil down to two categories: Pecuniary and non-pecuniary. Pecuniary compensatory damages are things that can be easily measured like lost wages, medical costs, and property damage. The state of Florida does not have any caps to these pecuniary compensatory damages. So if the damages are the result of the defendant’s actions, the defendant must pay the full value of those losses with no limit. However, when it comes to non-pecuniary types of compensatory loss like loss of consortium, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life, which are much harder to quantify in financial terms, there are no caps but courts are reluctant to allow unlimited damages.

Punitive Damages Caps

Unlike compensatory damages, the state of Florida does have caps on punitive damages in certain circumstances. According to Florida Statutes Title XLV, if the defendant intentionally harmed the plaintiff there is no cap to punitive damages. However if the defendant exercised negligence and financially gained from the harm punitive damages are limited to four times the compensatory claim. In all other cases, punitive damages are limited to three time the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000 whichever is greater. Most of the time punitive damages are only awarded to plaintiffs when there has been gross negligence or criminal intent on the part of the defendant. Generally, punitive damages of large sums are only awarded from “deep pocket” plaintiffs like large corporations.

Exceptions To The Damage Cap Rule

In severe cases, Florida courts have ruled for damages to be awarded above the caps. Some judges have deemed that damage cap laws violate constitutional guarantees and therefore have sought to overturn them. In 2014, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the one million dollar cap on wrongful death suits, after determining that it arbitrarily reduced the value of the plaintiff’s injury. So in extreme cases, damage caps can be overturned. Although this is a very rare situation.

Comparative Negligence

Another important factor to consider in damage caps is comparative negligence. The state of Florida is a comparative negligence state, which means that fault can be distributed between both parties. So if the plaintiff shares a percentage of fault, that will impact their awarded damages. For example, if the court has decided the value of the claim is $50,000, but the plaintiff was 30% at fault, while the defendant was 70% at fault, the plaintiff will only be awarded $35,000. So even though this is not a cap, it has a definitely influence on the amount of damages you can receive in Florida.

Even though the damage cap laws are pretty fair in the state of Florida, you still may not end up with a fair settlement for your injury. Insurance companies are only focused on their bottom line and will try to make sure you accept the lowest settlement possible. So it is very important that you hire a personal injury attorney when you make a claim. A personal injury attorney like the knowledgeable experts at , Goldman, Babboni, & Walsh will make sure that you will get the full value of your claim, and in cases of gross negligence, will get the punitive damages you deserve. So contact us today for more information on how we can help you with your Florida personal injury claim.

Attorney David Goldman has a strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and those with the means should do what they can to bring justice in all areas of our society. That belief has led him to help Florida's injured from being taken advantage of by corporations and insurance companies. Since 1989 David Goldman has been fighting for the rights of Floridians both as an attorney and by personally supporting our community.

Understanding Florida’s Personal Injury Damage Caps

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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