When Caps on Medical Malpractice Are Unjust

How a family’s unfairly capped payment became a $4.3 million dollar award 

Caps on medical malpractice claims vary from state to state. In Florida, the caps on non-economic damages (damages based on subjective criteria, such as emotional pain, loss of affection, and psychological support) have been consistently low. When a 24-year-old mother in Fort Lauderdale lost her life toward the end of her pregnancy in August of 2014 as a result of medical malpractice, her family was not only emotionally devastated, but legally constrained. If you have been victimized by the malpractice of medical professionals, make sure that you engage the services of a first-rate personal injury attorney in order to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

A Case of Injustice

Patricia Belzi was 33 weeks pregnant when she arrived at the hospital complaining of shortness of breath. Eight hours later, she was diagnosed with a brain injury resulting from a loss of oxygen. She remained in a vegetative state for nearly 3 months before passing away. It was later proved that the doctors who treated her were guilty of malpractice for not recognizing the increasing loss of oxygen that led to her traumatic brain injury.

Her baby, Abigail, miraculously survived after being delivered in the emergency room without anesthesia or sterile conditions in a last-ditch effort to save the infant before the mother expired. The child, now 2 years old is being raised by her father. According to Florida’s tort-reformed malpractice laws, the Belzi family was forced to accept the hospital’s offer of foregoing the right to a jury trial and submitting the case to binding arbitration — in spite of the fact that the hospital had already accepted responsibility for young woman’s death. The settlement, in keeping with Florida’s harsh cap on such claims, was a measly $250,000.

How the Settlement Became More Reasonable

Although of course no amount of money could bring back the child’s mother or the husband’s wife, the medical malpractice attorneys of the family eventually obtained a much more reasonable $4.3 million award as a settlement. The attorneys hired by the family built a convincing legal case around the fact that losing Patricia presented the family with heavy economic losses as well as non-economic ones. This was difficult since Patricia was a young woman who had not yet completed her education. At the time she died, she was training to be a nurse.

Nonetheless, the medical malpractice attorneys were able to present the arbitrators with evidence of the economic “worth” — which is, of course, actually inestimable — of a woman who was already a devoted wife and who was on the road to becoming a professional wage-earner and dedicated mother. The lawyers provided powerful evidence of what it would cost to replace her “services,” not to mention her affection and constant emotional support.

In spite of this particular family’s win over the state’s obsolete, irrational provisos, the lead attorney of their law firm registered his complaint that “this unjust one-sided law capping the family’s non-economic damages is outdated and just plain wrong.” He has already advised the hospital’s attorneys that if they appeal the arbitrators’ multimillion-dollar award, his firm is fully prepared to cross-appeal, requesting that the appellate court throw out the cap on non-economic damages as unconstitutional.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, it is essential that you secure the services of an experienced and creative medical malpractice attorney, one who has a track record of receiving substantial and fair settlements for his or her clients.