Back in the 1980s, there was a widespread belief that medical malpractice claims were out of control. People bought into the notion that attorneys handling such claims were just ambulance chasers looking to make a quick dollar off of the newly bereaved.
Consequently, a unique loophole was placed into Florida’s law that now protects doctors and hospitals from medical malpractice suits in a way that may be quite unfair to survivors.
Section 768.21(8) of the Florida Statute is often called the “Free Kill” law. It’s a derisive nickname that refers to the fact that survivors can’t claim noneconomic damages in a wrongful death claim when medical malpractice is involved whenever victims are unmarried, over 25 years of age and without minor children.
Without standing to sue, a malpractice victim’s survivors can’t hold anybody financially accountable for their losses. Those losses are often deeply personal, especially for a victim’s adult children who have been deprived of their parent’s love and guidance.
Now, the courts are starting to question whether or not the exception in the law is really necessary — or even in the public’s interest. In other words, the “crisis” being caused by medical malpractice claims may not be that much of a crisis, after all.
The adult children of a lung cancer victim who died as a result of malpractice have challenged the constitutionality of the rule barring them from recovering certain damages in her death. They’ve twice lost their battle — once in the circuit court and then again on appeal. However, the appeals court has now asked the state’s Supreme Court to look at the issue again. The judges say that it’s time to reconsider whether the exemption is a violation of every citizen’s right to equal protection under the law.
If you ask most people who have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, the only crisis in play is the ability of bad doctors to find a safe haven in Florida. If your loved one was lost due to the negligence of a doctor or hospital, find out more about your legal options.