Florida's Wrongful Death Act Criticized As Discriminatory and Arbitrary

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Florida’s 30-Year-Old Wrongful Death Act Under Fire

florida wrongful death act

Key Points of This Article:

  • Currently under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, the loved ones of individuals above the age of 25 who do not have a spouse or children cannot sue for medical malpractice on their behalf.
  • When a family member dies or is seriously injured due to someone’s negligence, the family wants their day in court. They want to hold the right people accountable. They want justice. Should this 30-year-old law be changed?

Imagine your son sitting desperately in a hospital waiting room, hoping for emergency medical treatment that could save his life. But hospital employees fail to assist him in a timely manner and leave him to die. Wouldn’t you want to hold them responsible for your son’s wrongful death?

This happened in North Florida in January 2019. The son was a 32-year-old Marine and Iraq combat veteran who was injured in a motorcycle accident. He sought help at a hospital but was left waiting while his life-saving surgery was repeatedly delayed and rescheduled. 

He died right there in the hospital and his family was left wondering what went wrong. They sought legal advice and, to their surprise, discovered that a family can’t sue for medical malpractice if the deceased is over age 25 with no spouse or children.

Is it Time to Change the Wrongful Death Act?

Under Florida State Statute 768.21, also known as the Wrongful Death Act, the loved ones of individuals above the age of 25 who do not have a spouse or children cannot sue for medical malpractice on their behalf. The origin of the law, which is more than 30 years old, is a desire to avoid frivolous lawsuits and contain healthcare costs.

In light of what happened to the North Florida family and their son and many other families like them, some Floridians are beginning to wonder if the Wrongful Death Act is unfair. It could even be argued that it’s discriminatory and arbitrary. 

Plus, this exception in the law is letting hospitals and medical personnel off the hook for malpractice. When a family member dies or is seriously injured due to someone’s negligence, the family wants their day in court. They want to hold the right people accountable. They want justice. 

Anger and Confusion Over Wrongful Death Act in Tampa

The current Wrongful Death Act also creates other situations that leave Florida families feeling confused and angry. For example, imagine you’re the adult child of an elderly parent who dies due to the negligence of the staff at a long-term care facility. Wouldn’t you be shocked to discover that you can’t sue the facility and hold them responsible?

Consider the plight of a person who needs a heart transplant, but the hospital doesn’t put them on the heart transplant list. This recently happened locally to 51-year-old Gerald Giannillo, in a story that became international news. He died at Tampa General Hospital and because his family couldn’t sue for malpractice, there was no investigation into his death. The family was left without answers.

Empower Yourself to Stand Up for Your Loved One

Florida is the only state in the nation with the kind of exclusions we have in the Wrongful Death Act. Unfortunately, our law means Florida hospitals and other medical facilities can simply wash their hands of malpractice, free from consequences. What an injustice.

If you’re wondering whether you can sue for medical malpractice or wrongful death, connect with a Tampa Bay personal injury lawyer who can review your case and help you understand the impact of the Wrongful Death Act. We can’t change the law, but we can make sure you’re doing everything possible to honor your loved one.

When Results Matter, Call Kemp, Ruge & Green of Tampa Bay

Regardless of the reason for your injury, if someone else caused it, the only way you can recover from your medical bills and other losses is through a personal injury claim. The attorneys at Kemp, Ruge & Green Law Group handle many areas of personal injury law including wrongful death and motorcycle accidents. We believe you should only have to work on getting well, while we worry about using the justice system to protect your rights. We give our clients with the best possible results-driven service. You pay us only if we win in injury cases. Call 877-941-4878 today for a free consultation.