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The Florida Statutes

The 2021 Florida Statutes

Title XLV
TORTS
Chapter 766
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE AND RELATED MATTERS
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F.S. 766.31
1766.31 Administrative law judge awards for birth-related neurological injuries; notice of award.
(1) Upon determining that an infant has sustained a birth-related neurological injury and that obstetrical services were delivered by a participating physician at the birth, the administrative law judge shall make an award providing compensation for the following items relative to such injury:
(a) Actual expenses for medically necessary and reasonable medical and hospital, habilitative and training, family residential or custodial care, professional residential, and custodial care and service, for medically necessary drugs, special equipment, and facilities, and for related travel. At a minimum, compensation must be provided for the following actual expenses:
1. A total annual benefit of up to $10,000 for immediate family members who reside with the infant for psychotherapeutic services obtained from providers licensed under chapter 490 or chapter 491.
2. For the life of the child, providing parents or legal guardians with a reliable method of transportation for the care of the child or reimbursing the cost of upgrading an existing vehicle to accommodate the child’s needs when it becomes medically necessary for wheelchair transportation. The mode of transportation must take into account the special accommodations required for the specific child. The plan may not limit such transportation assistance based on the child’s age or weight. The plan must replace any vans purchased by the plan every 7 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first.
3. Housing assistance of up to $100,000 for the life of the child, including home construction and modification costs.
(b) However, the following expenses are not subject to compensation:
1. Expenses for items or services that the infant has received, or is entitled to receive, under the laws of any state or the Federal Government, except to the extent such exclusion may be prohibited by federal law.
2. Expenses for items or services that the infant has received, or is contractually entitled to receive, from any prepaid health plan, health maintenance organization, or other private insuring entity.
3. Expenses for which the infant has received reimbursement, or for which the infant is entitled to receive reimbursement, under the laws of any state or the Federal Government, except to the extent such exclusion may be prohibited by federal law.
4. Expenses for which the infant has received reimbursement, or for which the infant is contractually entitled to receive reimbursement, pursuant to the provisions of any health or sickness insurance policy or other private insurance program.
(c) Expenses included under paragraph (a) are limited to reasonable charges prevailing in the same community for similar treatment of injured persons when such treatment is paid for by the injured person. The parents or legal guardians receiving benefits under the plan may file a petition with the Division of Administrative Hearings to dispute the amount of actual expenses reimbursed or a denial of reimbursement.
(d)1.a. Periodic payments of an award to the parents or legal guardians of the infant found to have sustained a birth-related neurological injury, which award may not exceed $100,000. However, at the discretion of the administrative law judge, such award may be made in a lump sum. Beginning on January 1, 2021, the award may not exceed $250,000, and each January 1 thereafter, the maximum award authorized under this paragraph shall increase by 3 percent.
b. Parents or legal guardians who received an award pursuant to this section before January 1, 2021, and whose child currently receives benefits under the plan must receive a retroactive payment in an amount sufficient to bring the total award paid to the parents or legal guardians pursuant to sub-subparagraph a. to $250,000. This additional payment may be made in a lump sum or in periodic payments as designated by the parents or legal guardians and must be paid by July 1, 2021.
2.a. Death benefit for the infant in an amount of $50,000.
b. Parents or legal guardians who received an award pursuant to this section, and whose child died since the inception of the program, must receive a retroactive payment in an amount sufficient to bring the total award paid to the parents or legal guardians pursuant to sub-subparagraph a. to $50,000. This additional payment may be made in a lump sum or in periodic payments as designated by the parents or legal guardians and must be paid by July 1, 2021.
(e) Reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the filing of a claim under ss. 766.301-766.316, including reasonable attorney’s fees, which shall be subject to the approval and award of the administrative law judge. In determining an award for attorney’s fees, the administrative law judge shall consider the following factors:
1. The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal services properly.
2. The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services.
3. The time limitations imposed by the claimant or the circumstances.
4. The nature and length of the professional relationship with the claimant.
5. The experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing services.
6. The contingency or certainty of a fee.

Should there be a final determination of compensability, and the claimants accept an award under this section, the claimants shall not be liable for any expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred in connection with the filing of a claim under ss. 766.301-766.316 other than those expenses awarded under this section.

(2) The award shall require the immediate payment of expenses previously incurred and shall require that future expenses be paid as incurred.
(3) A copy of the award shall be sent immediately by registered or certified mail to each person served with a copy of the petition under s. 766.305(2).
History.s. 69, ch. 88-1; s. 5, ch. 89-186; s. 22, ch. 91-46; s. 4, ch. 94-106; s. 313, ch. 96-410; s. 150, ch. 2001-277; s. 6, ch. 2002-401; s. 78, ch. 2003-416; s. 3, ch. 2021-134.
1Note.Section 6, ch. 2021-134, provides that “[t]he amendments made to s. 766.31, Florida Statutes, by this act, apply to petitions pending or filed under s. 766.305, Florida Statutes, on or after January 1, 2021. However, s. 766.31(1)(d)1.b. and 2.b., Florida Statutes, as created by this act, apply retroactively.”