While lounging on Miami Beach or vacationing in Orlando, you're probably not thinking about the words "pain and suffering." But injuries can happen anywhere, and like all states, Florida treats "pain and suffering" as a legal term for the physical and emotional distress caused by an injury. If you've been injured in the Sunshine State, you may need to know how courts treat pain and suffering damages in Florida.
Below is a table with laws relevant to pain and suffering damages in Florida, including damages caps and the statute of limitations.
|Statute of Limitations|
|Limits on Damages||No cap on pain & suffering damages, generally; $500,000 cap on non-economic damages in most medical malpractice cases; $200,000 cap on most claims against state & local governments (Sec. 768.28(5))|
|Other Limits||No-fault rule (for car accidents) and pure comparative negligence rule may limit recovery of damages (Sec. 768.81(2))|
The Different Types of Damages in Florida
In a claim for damages after an accident, there are usually two types of damages to consider: economic (or "special") and non-economic (or "general"). Economic damages refer to the more concrete costs of an injury, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Non-economic damages are the more abstract, subjective costs of an accident, including past and future pain and suffering. A few examples of these types of injuries are depression, insomnia, and the loss of enjoyment of life.
How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Measured in Florida?
Damages for pain and suffering are difficult to measure because the experience is so subjective and there is no universal standard of measurement. Courts often instruct juries to use their best judgment in deciding how much pain and suffering damages to award a plaintiff, and attorneys and juries use a number of factors to assign value to these types of damages.
Some examples of factors courts consider in determining damages for pain and suffering are:
To determine the value of pain and suffering, some attorneys employ a "multiplier method" whereby the attorney multiplies the economic damages by a certain number, usually between one and five. For example, if the injured suffered $50,000 in lost income, an attorney could argue that the plaintiff is entitled to three times that amount ($150,000) for pain and suffering.
Florida's Limits on Damages
Some jurisdictions impose their own limits on these types of awards. While Florida does not have a cap on damages for pain and suffering in general, it does limit such awards to $500,000 for medical malpractice claims (though there are exceptions). Also, the state's "pure comparative negligence" rule will reduce damages in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the plaintiff. Lastly, for car accidents, Florida's "no-fault" rule means that your insurance provider covers certain damages regardless of who was at fault, and prevents you from filing a lawsuit for pain and suffering damages unless you were severely injured.
Are You Eligible for Pain and Suffering Damages? Talk to a Lawyer
There's no objective way to measure damages for pain and suffering. Therefore, the amount awarded can vary widely and hinge on factors such as the sympathy of the jury and evidence documenting your experiences after the accident. Learn more by speaking with a Florida injury law attorney familiar with pain and suffering damages.
Contact a qualified attorney.