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Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuits and the “Free Kill Law”


In most cases, families can file a wrongful death lawsuit against a defendant who causes the death of their loved one. However, there are special provisions on the book for medical malpractice lawsuits. Florida Statutes 768.21 contains a controversial provision that only applies to medical malpractice lawsuits. The law specifically precludes parents of children over the age of 25 from filing a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit against a medical services provider. Known colloquially as Florida’s “free kill law”, the law stipulates that only a spouse or minor children can file a lawsuit on behalf of their deceased parents if they are killed by a negligent doctor.

Proponents of the law say that it helps weed out “junk” lawsuits and reduces the cost of medical malpractice insurance. However, others claim that the law unfairly prevents lawsuits from being filed. Florida is the only state in the country with this sort of structure placed on medical malpractice lawsuits.

Understanding Florida’s “free kill law”

 Essentially, the law prevents parents of adult children from filing a lawsuit on behalf of their deceased parents. No other personal injury lawsuit in Florida contains such a stricture. Only medical malpractice lawsuits are impacted by the legislation. This controversial law has been in place since 1990. The general sense of the law was to reduce the costs of medical malpractice insurance and prevent physicians from leaving the state. Critics of the law claim that the age limit is arbitrary and hurts grieving families. They likewise claim that it disproportionately harms certain demographics such as disabled adults. Since disabled adults marry less frequently, there may be no one to file a lawsuit on their behalf. Hence, the term “free kill.”

Doctors in these situations are immune from medical malpractice lawsuits unless the victim is married or has children. Once they reach the age of 25, no one has the power to file a lawsuit on their behalf.

This is an unfair law 

This law prevents cases from being filed even before they reach the court. Grieving parents are prevented from filing lawsuits on behalf of their adult children if they are killed by medical malpractice. As mentioned earlier, Florida is the only state with such a provision. Medical malpractice lawsuits are the only type of lawsuit that prevents parents from filing a case on behalf of an adult child over the age of 25.

Detractors of the bill claim that the age limit is arbitrary and don’t see the sense in having a provision that only targets medical malpractice lawsuits. In cases where the adult child is injured by a medical doctor, it creates a perverse incentive to see the patient killed. If the patient is injured, they can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If the patient is killed, no medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

 The Matassini Law Firm represents the interests of Tampa, FL residents who have been injured by medical malpractice. Call our Tampa medical malpractice lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.




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