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

Lawmaker proposes trading “free kill” law for new malpractice cap

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Last December, we talked about some Florida state lawmakers’ efforts to end what’s sometimes referred to as the “free kill” law. That law includes a provision that prohibits anyone other than spouses and minor children from seeking non-economic (“pain and suffering”) losses from a medical provider who is responsible for the death of a loved one if that loved one was over 25.

We noted that some lawmakers were preparing other legislation for the upcoming session they hoped would provide other relief from hefty malpractice claims while ending the current restrictions in the law.

What are the proposed changes?

Now the Florida Senate is considering a bill that would allow awards for non-economic damages to close family members if a loved one dies or is seriously injured due to medical malpractice, without the current age restrictions. However, it would cap the awards at $500,000.

Some lawmakers and survivors of those killed by medical negligence say the cap is too low. One father of a woman left with permanent brain damage calls it a “slap in the face.” He believes that juries that hear individual malpractice cases should be the ones to decide the amount, and that it shouldn’t be given a blanket cap by lawmakers.

The state senator behind the bill says that some kind of cap is necessary to offset the additional malpractice awards that will be paid by opening up non-economic losses to more family members. He sees the proposed legislation as a compromise. Note that Florida law is unique in the U.S. because it treats wrongful deaths caused by medical malpractice differently than other types of wrongful death.

Not surprisingly, the head of the Florida Hospital Association agrees with the cap. One official with that group says that “while we have had a concern about opening up and broadening the number of individuals who can sue, we are interested in supporting a compromise that would include putting financial caps back in place for non-economic damages….”

As state lawmakers debate who can and can’t receive various types of damages (and how much) when a loved one has died due to the actions or negligence of medical providers, it’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance if you’re dealing with this tragic situation. This effort can help you as you seek accountability to the maximum extent allowable under state law per the unique circumstances of your loss.

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