I Hate to Tell People This….

Almost once a week I have a call from a family member whose loved one has died, often from clear-cut medical or hospital errors. Then I have to have the conversation I hate–telling them they don’t have a case.

Here’s why: Florida is one of only a handful of states that has a law (in Florida it’s the Wrongful Death Act) which limits who can bring a lawsuit for the death of a loved one due to medical malpractice. The only people who can file a lawsuit for wrongful death due to medical malpractice are the surviving husband or wife or children UNDER the age of 25.

Not fair. But it’s the law. “What about common-law husband? We’ve been living together for (fill in the blank) years. Doesn’t that count?” people ask me. No. It doesn’t count. Florida doesn’t recognize common-law marriages. No case.

Only way to change this is to have the Florida legislature pass a law repealing it. Good luck with that.

The glimmer of good news is that for deaths due to nursing home or assisted living negligence, that law doesn’t apply.