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Adult Children Could be Barred from Suing Florida Nursing Homes


In Florida, it’s very difficult for an adult child to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a deceased parent. This is known as Florida’s “free kill” law. An adult with no spouse may have no one to sue on their behalf if they are killed by a negligent doctor. Now, Florida lawmakers are seeking to extend the provision to nursing homes where they could sieve out the vast majority of potential lawsuits. The new rule would also prevent expert witnesses from collecting contingency fees.

These measures would be added to House Bill 837 which already will make massive changes to Florida’s civil system of torts and personal injury lawsuits and make the current law similar to how medical malpractice rules work in the state.

Analyzing the new reforms 

The new reforms appear on the surface to be a cynical attempt at cutting out the vast majority of plaintiffs from lawsuits against nursing homes. Many of those who require 24-hour nursing do not have living spouses, so the extension of “free kill” protections would bar the majority of plaintiffs from having standing to sue.

The majority of HB 837 targets how civil torts work in Florida. Some of these provisions make Florida rules similar to other states that apply a contributory negligence bar to filing a lawsuit. In these states, a plaintiff can only be 50% liable for their injuries in order to bring a cause of action against a defendant. Prior, almost anyone could bring a cause of action against a defendant so long as they were not 100% liable for their injuries.

Nursing homes already have the benefit of the doubt in a lot of cases and remain unreasonably difficult to sue. On top of that, the corporate structure of many nursing homes insulates the nursing home from liability.

Nursing home ledgers tend to show razor-thin profit margins but the majority of the capital generated by the nursing home is kicked up to a parent company where the funds are protected from personal injury lawsuits. In order to accomplish this, the nursing home pays exorbitant rental fees at many times the standard rate. This moves the capital out of the nursing home and into a second company where that money becomes untouchable. The process hurts both patients and nursing home workers, and understaffing at these facilities remains a major problem and a major vector for patient injury.

It’s also true that nursing homes contributed more deaths to the pandemic than any other demographic. This was largely due to botched infection control protocols or a basic lack of care. So nursing homes don’t really need more protection, they need to be more accountable to basic standards. Preventing adult children from suing is a cynical means of protecting nursing homes that can’t protect their patients.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today 

The Matassini Law Firm represents the interests of Tampa residents who have been injured or lost a loved one due to nursing home negligence. Call our Tampa personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your suit immediately.



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