The Florida House Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee voted 13 to 5 on January 27, 2022 to approve House Bill 6011. which would change the existing wrongful death law in Florida medical malpractice cases to allow parents of adult children to pursue such damages. Florida is the only state that differentiates between wrongful-death claims in malpractice cases and other types of cases. The proposed law is opposed by from physician groups and medical malpractice insurers, which argue that the change would lead to increased medical malpractice insurance premiums.
HB 6011 states:
Section 1. Subsection (8) of section 768.21, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
768.21 Damages.—All potential beneficiaries of a recovery for wrongful death, including the decedent’s estate, shall be identified in the complaint, and their relationships to the decedent shall be alleged. Damages may be awarded as follows:
(8) The damages specified in subsection (3) shall not be recoverable by adult children
and the damages specified in subsection (4) shall not be recoverable by parents of an adult child with respect to claims for medical negligence as defined by s. 766.106(1).
Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2022.
The Florida House passed the proposed change last year but the change did not make it through the Florida Senate at that time.
Florida Wrongful Death Statute
A wrongful death action arises when a person dies from injuries sustained as a result of a wrongful act or omission by the defendant. In a wrongful death action, Florida’s Wrongful Death Act limits the types of damages recoverable by certain parties as follows:
The deceased’s estate may recover for:
o Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings;
o Medical and funeral expenses that were paid by the estate; and
o The value the estate could reasonably have been expected to acquire if the deceased had lived.
Specified family members may recover for:
o The value of support and services the deceased provided;
o Loss of companionship and guidance;
o Mental and emotional pain and suffering, in specified cases; and
o Compensation for medical and funeral expenses the family member has paid for the deceased.
In an ordinary wrongful death action (such as a suit based on a death caused by an automobile accident), parents can recover for their mental pain and suffering for the loss of an adult child when there is no surviving spouse or child. However, when the wrongful death action is based on a medical malpractice claim, parents cannot recover for their mental pain and suffering for the loss of an adult child. HB 6011 amends s. 768.21(8), F.S., to allow parents of an adult child who has no surviving spouse or children to recover for mental pain and suffering in a medical malpractice wrongful death action.
If you or a loved one have suffered serious harm as a result of medical negligence in Florida or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Florida medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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