Florida Family Calls For Change With Medical Malpractice Legal Loophole
Harsh application of Florida’s Wrongful Death Act (WDA) has led a family to call upon lawmakers to change the statute and eliminate a provision that carries adverse consequences for survivors. NBC affiliate WFLA News Channel 8 covered the story, in which a man died because of a 9-inch long blood clot that was not properly diagnosed. Officials later found that the physician who treated the patient had committed acts of medical malpractice, so they assessed penalties against the doctor. However, despite these findings, the WDA bars compensation for the victim’s survivors.
These unfortunate circumstances reveal a key loophole that harms family members: The WDA only allows certain individuals to seek monetary damages, and none of the survivors involved in this specific case qualify. A Tampa medical malpractice lawyer will explain how the statute works, but some background shows the surprising way it cuts off people who lost a loved one.
Overview of Florida’s Wrongful Death Law: These claims are a type of personal injury case, so the laws cover accidents, intentional misconduct, and negligence by health care providers. For a medical malpractice case, you must be able to prove the essential elements: The physician who provided treatment breached the applicable standard of care and caused harm to the patient.
When a med mal claim is fatal, it is still necessary to prove these elements. However, you will also need to show that you qualify under the requirements of the WDA. In Florida, the personal representative for the decedent’s estate must sue for wrongful death, either someone appointed in a will or by the court. The personal representative acts for the survivors to recover compensation on their behalf. Survivors include:
- The surviving spouse;
- Minor children, defined as children under age 25 instead of the age of adulthood at 18 years old; and,
- Parents, but only if there is no surviving spouse or minor children.
In the story covered by WFLA, the deceased patient was not married. His only daughter was over 25 years old, and his parents had passed away. There is a provision in WDA that enables siblings to recover compensation, but only if they were reliant upon the decedent for support – which is not the case.
Damages for Wrongful Death: When survivors are eligible to pursue a med mal claim, compensation aims to reimburse them instead of the person who died. They can recover amounts for:
- Mental pain and suffering;
- Loss of companionship and protection, for the surviving spouse; and,
- Loss of instruction and guidance, for minor children.
Count on a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney to Fight for Your Rights
Hopefully, this loophole for wrongful death lawsuits will be eliminated and result in a fair application of the law. To learn more about your options under the existing statute, please contact the Tampa, FL offices of Greco & Wozniak P.A. at 813.223.7849 or via our website. We can schedule a no-cost consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who will describe your legal remedies after losing a loved one.