consult
X

Request a Free Consultation

Please fill out the form below and we will be in touch soon.
  • MM slash DD slash YYYY

Blog Home

Florida’s “Free Kill” Exemption And What It Means for Wrongful Death
Posted By:

Florida’s “Free Kill” Exemption And What It Means for Wrongful Death

 

Your son gets addicted to prescription opioids. He stays clean for a few years but then slips. When he overdoses on drugs, he is taken to the hospital. During his treatment, a nurse removes a PIC line, against proper instructions. Your son develops an air embolism. He dies while seated next to you in the hospital’s discharge lounge. His death certificate denies that any medical error was involved.

 

What do you do to cover the expenses of his burial? What can you do to investigate the nurse’s actions? Is there anything you can do to hold the hospital accountable?

 

In other states, you might get an answer. Yet in Florida, the answer is “nothing.” You can’t do anything to hold anyone accountable for your son’s death. You cannot file a wrongful death suit. Why? He was 25 and single at the time of his death.

 

This is a True Story Because of a Loophole in Florida Law

 

This story happened in 2016 and is one of many stories that activists use to argue against Florida’s “Free Kill” exemption.

 

The “Free Kill” exemption exists within Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, which outlines the policies and procedures for filing a wrongful death suit. It states that parents and children cannot file a wrongful death claim if their loved one dies of medical malpractice in Florida.

 

According to Florida law, only spouses and minor children can sue for wrongful death related to medical malpractice. If someone is over the age of 25 and dies due to medical error, their parents cannot take legal action. Their boyfriend or girlfriend cannot sue.

 

The hospital, if they do not state medical error as a cause of death, can still ask an insurance company to pay for benefits. Thus, the hospital gets a “free kill.”

 

Experts believe that at least one out of every two Floridians qualifies as a “free kill.” If these Floridians were to move to other states, their families would have more options to sue for wrongful death. Florida is the only state that employs this loophole.

 

The “Free Kill” Exemption Only Applies in Cases of Medical Malpractice

 

Individuals may file for medical malpractice if they live to tell the tale, but loved ones may be held back from doing so if the person perishes at the hands of gross negligence.

 

This loophole may not seem fair, but it has been in place for three decades. It has been challenged in court, but lawmakers believe that the costs that hospitals would have to pay in wrongful death suits outweigh the benefits that parents of adult children would receive by holding negligence accountable.

 

Some lawmakers have taken a stand against the Free Kill loophole. HB 6051 seeks to repeal the Free Kill loophole and give grieving families more options for seeking an investigation into their loved one’s death.

 

Understand Your Options as a Floridian

 

South Florida Wrongful Death Attorney

 

Parents and adult children can file a wrongful death suit in cases of drunk drivers, swimming pool accidents, and other professional malpractice, but not medical malpractice. This is a very specific loophole.

 

If your loved one suffered a wrongful death and a medical practitioner was involved, reach out to an experienced Florida personal injury attorney. They will be able to evaluate your case and to answer questions about whether filing suit makes sense for you.

 

 

About the Author:

 

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.

 

0/5 (0 Reviews)
Categories
AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS

AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS

AMERICAS TOP 100 HIGH STAKES LITIGATORS

2018-2021

Selection to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® is by invitation only and is comprised of the nation’s most exceptional trial lawyers for high stakes legal matters. For initial consideration, an attorney must have successfully litigated (for either plaintiff or defendant) a matter (1) with at least $2,000,000 in alleged damages at stake or (2) with the fate of a business worth at least $2,000,000 at stake (i.e. bet-the-company litigation valued in excess of $2,000,000).

AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS

LEAD COUNSEL

LEAD COUNSEL
RATED

Since 1997, the Lead Counsel Rating has been available for free to attorneys who have demonstrated the following three requirements:

Professional Experience
Peer Recommendations
Spotless Record

AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS

LAWYERS OF DISTINCTION

LAWYERS OF
DISTINCTION

Lawyers of Distinction members have been selected based upon a review and vetting process from our Selection Committee. After a thorough review of credentials, attorneys are nominated by our Selection Committee. Lawyers do not pay for this nomination. These potential candidates who meet the criteria of our screening process have demonstrated a high degree of peer recognition and professional competence

AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS

MILLION DOLLAR ADVOCATES FORUM
LIFETIME MEMBER

THE TOP TRIAL LAWYERS IN AMERICA ®

ONE OF THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS GROUPS OF TRIAL LAWYERS IN THE UNITED STATES. MEMBERSHIP IS LIMITED TO ATTORNEYS WHO HAVE WON MILLION AND MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR VERDICTS AND SETTLEMENTS.

AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS

FLORIDA TREND’S

FLORIDA LEGAL ELITE
2011-2021

Now in its 13th year, Florida Legal Elite presents a prestigious roster of attorneys chosen for recognition by their peers.

AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS

EXPERTISE BEST PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS IN FORT LAUDERDALE

BEST PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS IN FORT LAUDERDALE
2016-2021

Our goal is to be a hub where qualified experts can connect with people to share their knowledge, experience, and skills.

AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS

SUPER LAWYERS

TOP RATED PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER IN DAVIE FL
2011-2021

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS

SUPER LAWYERS TOP 100 FLORIDA LAWYERS

FLORIDA TOP 100 LAWYERS
2015-2017, 2019-2021

Super Lawyers magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys and is distributed to attorneys in the state or region and the ABA-approved law school libraries.

AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS

AVVO

TOP ATTORNEY PERSONAL INJURY
10.00
SUPERB

Avvo was founded in Seattle, Washington by tech-savvy lawyer Mark Britton to make legal easier and help people find a lawyer.

AWARDS & MEMBERSHIPS

MARTINDALE-HUBBELL AV PREEMINENT

AV PREEMINENT
2016-2021

For more than 130 years, Martindale-Hubbell has been evaluating attorneys for their strong legal ability and high ethical standards through a Peer Review Rating system. Prior to the 1887 edition of Martindale’s American Law Directory, which was the first publication to provide such ratings to attorneys, there was no way of truly knowing if the lawyer you were considering to do business with was trustworthy, ethical, or skilled in the legal field.

REVIEWS

LEAVE US A REVIEW

CASE RESULTS

See More Results

Font Resize