The Florida Wrongful Death Act, Florida Statutes 768.16 et seq. states that when someone dies as a result of medical malpractice,?only specific, expressly defined family members can bring a case for the loss of the loved one.
The specific family members who can bring a medical wrongful death case are as follows:
- Children who are 25 years old or younger
- Adult children dependent on the deceased for financial support
- The deceased's spouse
- The deceased's parents, if their child was 25 years old or younger
Has healthcare in Florida become more affordable because of the laws that shield hospitals and doctors from responsibility? No. The truth is laws should be consistent across the board, and everyone deserves their fair day in Court.
Inequalities in the Florida Wrongful Death Act
Though the concept behind the Florida Wrongful Death Act was to make it possible for people who lost a loved one to wrongful death to hold the wrongdoer responsible in a civil court, there are serious inequalities with regard to rightful compensation.
One such inequality is the limitation of the circumstances in which adult children and parents can be compensated for the loss of a loved one. It is illogical and unfair that according to the Florida Wrongful Death Act, healthcare providers in Florida cannot be held responsible for the wrongful death of an unmarried patient with no children under the age of 25.
Simply put, no justice can be done on behalf of individuals with:
- no spouse
- no dependent family members
- no children under the age of 25
This sets great limitations to the type and amount of damages that can be recovered by the relatives of a wrongful death victim and makes many Florida medical malpractice cases impossible to file. If you need help protecting your rights following a family's death due to medical negligence, contact The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, to have your medical malpractice wrongful death case evaluated.
Unless the Law Changes There are Serious Limitations to Recoverable Damages
Only the family members falling into the categories specified by law may sue in a medical negligence case. Damages that the family members of a medical malpractice wrongful death victim may be compensated for according to the current law include the following possibilities:
- If the patient was employed and the family can predict their remaining work-life expectancy and the assets they would have accumulated, then the family may recover those lost assets
- The family may recover any medical bills caused by the negligence
- The family may recover for the funeral expenses, depending on who paid them
In Florida, medical negligence is common; hence we fight against the legal protection that doctors and hospitals are shielded by.
Wrongful Death Cases in Florida Involving the Elderly
What happens when the hospital or doctor's malpractice causes the death of an 80-year-old widower who was retired? His children may be in their 60s or 40s, and they are devastated by their father's untimely unnecessary death. Unfortunately, under Florida's discriminatory Wrongful Death Act, when there is no spouse, no other dependent relatives, and no children under 25, the only recoverable damages caused by the negligence are the funeral bill and medical bills.
The family is only able to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover bills that may often not go above $12,000. Since it often costs over $40,000 in expenses to bring a malpractice case (expert witnesses, court reporters, etc.), the suit makes no economic sense and would end up costing more than could be recovered.
That is why we have often been forced to turn cases down, even though the malpractice was egregious and led to someone's death.
Florida's hospitals are full of retired people without spouses. We have a huge elderly population who are divorced, have lost a spouse, or have never married. Because Florida's medical, hospital, and insurance industries are very politically powerful, the law allows such patients to be killed by medical negligence without recourse.
How to Find a Wrongful Death Attorney
In Miami, 7 out of 10 cases may amount to medical malpractice. At The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, our attorney knows how much pain medical negligence can cause and will fight for all the damages allowed under the law.
As long as that is the case, we will have to explain to other loving families that they do not have a viable medical malpractice claim because they do not fall within the strict parameters of Florida law.
If a doctor's negligence leads to wrongful death, our knowledgeable Miami medical malpractice attorney can review your case for free and will help you protect your rights.