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Who Can Sue for Medical Malpractice Involving Wrongful Death in Florida?

A doctor and a nurse standing next to a patient laying on a gurney.

According to WFLA, a Tampa Bay man named Keith Davis died two years ago. Davis’s death was allegedly due to medical malpractice. The Florida Department of Health found probable cause of malpractice in Davis’s case. As a result of the Department of Health’s findings, the doctor had to pay a $7,500 fine, reimburse the Department of Health for the cost of reviewing his practice ($4,216), and complete 13 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME).

At a recent Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation meeting, lawmakers heard testimony from Davis’s family regarding a loophole in the Florida Wrongful Death Act (WDA) that prevents certain family members and others from suing for medical malpractice.

Per the law, when a loved one passes away due to medical negligence, family members can take legal action in pursuit of justice and compensation. However, only surviving spouses or minor children (up to 25 years old) are eligible to seek damages on their loved one’s behalf.

This law prevented Davis’s ex-wife from filing a wrongful death lawsuit on Davis’s behalf because they were no longer married at the time of his death. Davis’s daughter was also not eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit on his behalf because she’s over the age of 25.

Multiple House bills have been passed to change the 30-year-old law. So far, all the bills have failed to pass through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Who Types of Damages Can a Family Recover From Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?

When a wrongful death case is successful, the defendant pays damages to the plaintiff to compensate for their loss. Examples of damages that can be recovered from a wrongful death claim include:

  • The loss of services, companionship and protection provided by the deceased person.
  • Mental pain and suffering caused by the death.
  • Loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance.
  • Medical and funeral expenses paid by surviving family members.
  • Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings from time of injury to time of death.

For more information about wrongful death and medical malpractice in Florida, or to discuss your situation with our experienced wrongful death and medical malpractice lawyers in Weston, give Rash Mueller a call at (954) 914-7116 or contact us online today for a free consultation.

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