Florida Malpractice Law Proposed To Allow Parents to Seek Wrongful Death Damages For Loss of Adult Children

This is the second year in a row Florida lawmakers have sought to have the limits on medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuits amended.

A contentious bill proposed by Florida legislators this week seeks to allow parents to pursue pain and suffering damages when their adult children die due to medical malpractice negligence.

The House Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee approved House Bill 6011 in a 13-5 vote on Thursday, which would provide parents of adult children who die without spouses or children to seek wrongful death damages.

For the second time in two years, the Florida House has voted to pass the bill. providing a course of action for parents of adult children. However, the bill has yet to pass through the Florida Senate, where it is facing opposition from the medical community and insurance carriers.

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Currently, Florida law bars the parents of an adult child, who is not married and who does not have children, to pursue damages for pain and suffering if the child dies because of alleged medical malpractice. Only in certain cases can their parents seek compensation, usually only to recover medical and funeral expenses the parent has paid due to the injury and death of the adult child.

The law has been widely ridiculed for years, with many experts claiming physicians are not held fully accountable for their medical mistakes, noting that pain and suffering damages are allowed to be collected by surviving parents in other types of wrongful death cases.

“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,” the summary analysis of the bill states. “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.”

The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, was met with instant criticism from insurance and medical groups, claiming the allowance of mental pain and suffering damages to be collected for surviving parents of adult children with no spouse or children would cause an increase in claim amounts, which ultimately would result in malpractice insurance premiums to rise.

The bill will be presented to the full Florida Senate for review and voting, where it will be assigned to a committee for release, debate and voted on. If the vote favors passing the bill, it will be sent on the governor to potentially be signed into law.


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