Fatal Medical Errors: Rights Of Survivors Under Florida Wrongful Death Laws
Mistakes by health care providers can lead to severe, debilitating injuries, but they can also cause fatalities when the patient does not receive proper medical care. The standard that applies to practitioners is outlined in Florida’s medical negligence statute, which states that a doctor is required to provide treatment in accordance with what is acceptable and appropriate by reasonably careful physicians in the same position. A breach of this prevailing standard of care could give rise to a claim for damages.
However, while the basis for legal action is medical malpractice, recovering compensation is different when the patient died because of medical errors. The process is governed by Florida wrongful death laws, which are very specific on who can bring a claim and damages for survivors. A Tampa medical malpractice attorney will assist with the legal requirements, but some information should help you understand how these cases work.
Overview of Florida Wrongful Death Laws
At its core, a wrongful death claim is a personal injury case in which the victim died instead of just being injured. The laws cover a wide range of accidents, including auto collisions and slip and falls. They also apply to medical malpractice cases in which the health care provider’s error resulted in a fatality. Additional facts about wrongful death laws include:
- Only one individual has “standing” to bring a claim, which means they have the power to sue the negligent practitioner for med mal. The personal representative has this authority, and this is someone either named in the deceased’s will OR appointed by a probate court.
- The personal representative acts on behalf of the surviving spouse, children, parents and others who are entitled to receive compensation from the death of their loved one.
- Florida imposes a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions, including those that result in death. The discovery rule may extend this deadline by another two years if the harm was not discovered right away and could not have been discovered through due diligence. However, the deadline cannot go beyond four years total.
If the personal representative does not file a lawsuit in court before the statute of limitations expires, the case is barred.
Compensation in Florida Wrongful Death Cases
Damages in these matters aim to compensate the survivors for the losses they sustain after their loved one died. You and your family may qualify to recover for:
- Costs to treat the victim’s medical malpractice injuries before death;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Lost financial contributions the decedent would have provided had he or she lived; and,
- Loss of support and services; loss of companionship, instruction, guidance, and protection; and pain and suffering.
Trust a Florida Med Mal Lawyer for Help with Wrongful Death Cases
This overview of the requirements for wrongful death claims in Florida is useful, but keep in mind you still need to prove the elements of a medical malpractice case. To learn how we can assist, please contact Greco & WoLniak P.A. You can call 813.223.7849 or visit us online to set up a free consultation at our Tampa, FL offices.