Valenzuela Law Firm, PA | Trial Attorney
Attorney Henry E. Valenzuela

Lawmakers aim to end Florida’s “free kill” malpractice law

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

It’s horrible to even think about the devastation you would feel if you lost a loved one due to a medical mistake. Now, imagine how much more horrible it would be if you didn’t have any legal recourse against the hospital or doctor who caused your loved one’s death.

Far too many people don’t have to imagine what might feel like because they’ve already lived out that very scenario thanks to a unique piece of legislation known as Florida’s “free kill” law.

What is Florida’s “free kill” law?

Essentially, Florida’s statutes say that only the spouses and minor children of an adult who is over 25 years of age are allowed to pursue a pain and suffering claim if the adult dies due to medical malpractice. They may only sue for economic damages, such as funeral costs.

In practical terms, that effectively means that a negligent medical provider who causes a death can, in many cases, escape without any civil liability to the deceased’s family. The economic damages that a claim may be worth aren’t usually enough to offset the cost of litigation.

Why are lawmakers trying to end it?

The law has been in place since the 1990s, ever since there was a frenzied concern in the legislature over the idea that too many malpractice claims would cause a mass-exodus of medical providers from the state. It’s one of the most draconian obstacles to medical malpractice claims in the nation.

Now, a multitude of bills are heading to the Florida legislature in 2024 with the hopes of overturning them. At least six different bills (with six different forms of relief for grieving families) have been proposed. 

While it remains to be seen what ultimately happens in Florida regarding medical malpractice claims in 2024, victims and their families can always benefit from learning more about their legal options.

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