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New bill could mean major changes to wrongful death statute

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2022 | Wrongful Death |

Wrongful death claims can be a vital component of the financial recovery process for victim families in Florida. They can arise from a wide variety of circumstances ranging from auto accidents to employer failed to maintain a safe workplace. However, one of the most common types of wrongful death claims is when medical malpractice actions are filed. Wrongful death laws in Florida have typically allowed standing to sue for surviving immediate family members such as spouses and children of the deceased. There is new legislation proposed in Florida that would allow parents of children to sue for non-economic financial damages when their offspring die due to a doctor or facility negligence.

Prior problem

The new legislation, which was submitted and passed by the House of Representatives, aimed at allowing parents to sue when a child was allowed to die in an unsuccessful surgical procedure. In the past, surgeons were not required to take all steps available to keep a patient alive in the midst of a medical mistake or a failure of the patient to respond to a treatment procedure. Claims for these damages have been generally dismissed as recoverable wrongful death actions. Prior to now, the only potential recoverable claim could be in a personal injury lawsuit.

Senate has yet to act

There is a possibility that this legislation could hit a snag for full approval following the House of Representatives passing. The bill actually passed the House with overwhelming support at 102-13. The problem is that the bill entitled HB 6011 in the House and SB 262 in the Senate has been delayed by Senate Judiciary Committee leader Danny Burgess.

Opponents of the legal loophole that exempted surgeons from required lifesaving action were named the “free kill” exemption until now. The new regulations will make doctors liable when they allow a patient to die following a surgical procedure despite having medical treatments that can prevent the death.

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