In 2003, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and conservative legislators capped medical malpractice damages, arguing that high costs were driving doctors from the state. Eight years later, they pushed through another round of tort reforms in order to get the medical community to support the GOP plan to move Medicaid patients into managed care. This shift will not financially benefit hospitals and doctors – but these new restrictions on the rights of injured patients to sue negligent healthcare professionals will make up for that.
As of 2011, the following bills took effect:
- HB479: Restricts the use of expert witnesses by giving the Florida Health Department and Board of Medicine authority to certify and discipline out-of-state witnesses in medical malpractice lawsuits
- SB 1676: Shields private teaching hospitals from malpractice lawsuits by giving them “sovereign immunity protections”
- H7109: Caps non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, paid through Medicaid to $200,000 per practitioner and $300,000 per incident
- SB 142: Allows for comparative blame to be assigned to the injured party in addition to the manufacturer in defective auto lawsuits
Finding qualified expert witnesses is one of the most important elements in building a convincing case. The new laws put additional burdens on patients who have been seriously harmed because a professional was negligent, particularly Medicaid patients who can least afford accident-related expenses. You need experienced and knowledgeable attorneys to protect your legal rights. They do not change our commitment to protecting the legal rights of our Florida clients.