The State of Florida and its counties, municipalities, and other political subdivisions does not enjoy sovereign immunity. The statutory waiver of immunity is limited to $100,000 per claimant and $200,000 per occurrence. Neither the state nor any of its political subdivisions is liable for punitive damages. Litigants who obtain an unenforceable judgment in excess of the cap can petition the state legislature for a “claim bill,” that is, a private bill granting compensation in excess of the cap. A small number of these are routinely granted every year.
Independent contractors share in this sovereign immunity, and thus to enjoy the benefits of the low limits on damages. Legislature has specifically designed a statute to allow those providing medical services to the indigent at county hospitals and the like to be considered agents of the immune entity, and thus to avoid being the “deep pocket” defendant in cases where codefendants' liabilities will be capped. The contractor must meet risk management standards, pay his own costs and legal fees for malpractice litigation, and give notice of the arrangement to every patient.
Claims against the state or its political subdivisions must be made in writing to the Department of Insurance within three years from the date of the occurrence, and a complaint must be filed within four years. The State Tort Claims Act also provides that attorneys' fees in such actions may not exceed 25 percent of the judgment or settlement amount.
State employees are immune from suit for injuries caused in the course of their employment provided the employee does not act in bad faith or a willful wanton manner.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified medical malpractice lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local medical malpractice attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.